Are Coaches of Female Athletes Informed of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport? A Scoping Review

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 Griffith University
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In the last decade, there has been greater appreciation of the harmful consequences of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S), particularly in adolescent female athletes. Coaches act as both important moderators in the development of the condition and as identifiers of athletes at risk. Research suggests that coaches lack knowledge on this topic. At present, it is unclear if RED-S education is incorporated into coach accreditation pathways. The aim of this scoping review was to describe the extent to which RED-S education is incorporated into the coach accreditation pathways of endurance sporting organizations. Five national sporting organizations (Cycling Australia, Athletics Australia, Swimming Australia, Triathlon Australia, and Rowing Australia) were contacted to participate. First, each sporting organization’s website was scoped, then semi-structured interviews were conducted online. One investigator transcribed each interview verbatim. Transcripts were analyzed for thematic content. Four of the sporting organizations provided little to no RED-S education. Rowing Australia delivered a program of RED-S content via an affiliated sports dietitian. The barriers identified for implementation of RED-S content were: limited time, resources, and coaches’ preexisting knowledge and beliefs. Based on these results, RED-S education is, indeed, lacking in some coach accreditation programs for endurance-based sporting organizations. Support for these organizations is required to overcome existing barriers and to facilitate inclusion of RED-S education within the coaching curriculum to support female athlete health.

The authors are with Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Hamer (Jennifer.hamer@griffithuni.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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