The onset of COVID-19 and cancellation of collegiate sports may have exacerbated student-athletes’ psychological distress. Within a national sample of collegiate athletes (N = 5,755; 66.7% women), we determined how gender and race related to rates of depression, stress, and counseling use at the beginning of the pandemic (April/May 2020). Overall, 26.5% (n = 1,526) and 10.6% (n = 612) endorsed clinical levels of depression and stress, respectively; 25.1% (n = 1,443) and 69.7% (n = 4,014) reported subclinical levels. Few athletes (2.3%–17.1%) reported counseling use before or after the onset of COVID-19; those who did reported higher levels of depression and stress than those who never sought services. The female athletes reported higher rates of depression, stress, and counseling use than the male athletes. There were no race effects. Athletic departments must address their student-athletes’ psychological distress by facilitating a higher use of mental health services.
Lindsey E. Slavin, Tess M. Palmateer, Trent A. Petrie, and E. Whitney G. Moore
Carrie B. Scherzer, Jeremy Trenchuk, Meaghan Peters, and Robert Mazury
Athletes can be at elevated risk for developing eating disorders, the effects of which can be devastating. Few researchers have examined the influence of a predisposition toward an eating disorder on athletic injury. Exercise dependence might bridge the gap toward understanding this relationship. This study sought to examine the relationship between predisposition toward an eating disorder and exercise dependence and looked at both as predictors of athletic injury. College students (n = 132) completed the Eating Disorders Inventory and the Exercise Dependence Questionnaire, as well as provided demographic, activity, and injury information. Subscales of the Eating Disorders Inventory and Exercise Dependence Questionnaire were significant predictors of having at least one athletic injury in the preceding year. These findings suggest that both predisposition toward an eating disorder and exercise dependence may be contributing factors to injury.
Philip Sullivan and Laura Tennant
Intercollegiate student-athletes appear to be a high-risk population with respect to mental health. Student athletic therapists are one of the groups with whom these athletes may be comfortable disclosing concerns. The current study investigated the relationship between mental health literacy and mental health referral efficacy in a sample of intercollegiate student therapists. One hundred and eleven student athletic therapists (81 female, 29 male, 1 nondiscloure) competed a revised version of the multicomponent mental health literacy measure and a four-item measure of mental health referral efficacy. T tests revealed statistically significant differences in mental health literacy by gender and personal history, and a multiple linear regression revealed a significant model predicting referral efficacy from mental health literacy. There are several implications of these results, particularly when working with a high-risk population of student-athletes.
Zachary L. Mannes, Erin G. Ferguson, Nicole Ennis, Deborah S. Hasin, and Linda B. Cottler
Over 80% of National Football League (NFL) retirees experience daily pain. Pain acceptance is an important psychological construct implicated in the intensity of chronic pain, though these findings have not been extended to NFL retirees. Therefore, the current study examined the association between pain acceptance and pain intensity among former NFL athletes. NFL retirees (N = 90) recruited from 2018 to 2019 completed questionnaires that assessed pain, substance use, and NFL career information. Multiple linear regression examined the association between current pain acceptance and pain intensity while adjusting for other risk factors of pain. NFL retirees reported average scores of 33.31 (SD = 10.00), and 2.18 (SD = 2.40) on measures of pain acceptance and pain intensity, respectively. After covariate adjustment, greater pain acceptance (β = −0.538, p < .001) was associated with lower pain intensity. These findings can further inform the behavioral and mental health care of retired NFL athletes.
Eleftherios Paraskevopoulos, Georgios Gioftsos, Georgios Georgoudis, and Maria Papandreou
Adherence to exercise rehabilitation has been shown to be an important factor that may influence successful treatment. In professional athletes, a significant reduction in exercise adherence delays recovery. The aim of this study was to explore barriers to and facilitators of exercise rehabilitation adherence in injured volleyball athletes. Eight professional volleyball athletes were recruited, and qualitative data were collected using semistructured interviews. All athletes had completed their rehabilitation program after they had suffered a musculoskeletal injury. All data were analyzed using thematic analysis after the investigators ensured that saturation had been reached. Pain was identified as a significant barrier to exercise adherence by all athletes. The provision of social support, including mental, practical, and task related, also had a significant positive impact. The athletes’ ability to develop the necessary coping strategies and confidence on performing exercises at home was also mentioned as a factor that affected exercise adherence, although less often.
Dean R. Watson, Andrew P. Hill, and Daniel J. Madigan
Attitudes toward help-seeking will contribute to whether athletes ask for support for performance and mental health issues when needed. While research outside of sport has found perfectionism is related to negative attitudes toward help-seeking, no studies have examined the relationship in sport. The authors provided the first test of whether perfectionism predicted attitudes toward both sport psychology support and mental health support. One hundred and sixty-six collegiate athletes completed measures of perfectionism and attitudes toward sport psychology support and mental health support. Multiple regression analyses revealed that perfectionistic concerns positively predicted closedness and stigma toward sport psychology support and mental health support, and negatively predicted help-seeking toward mental health support. However, perfectionistic strivings negatively predicted stigma toward sport psychology support and mental health support, and positively predicted confidence in sport psychology support and help-seeking toward mental health support. Athletes higher in perfectionistic concerns are less likely to seek support when required.
Emma E. Schultz, Katerina Sergi, Gregg Twietmeyer, Nicolas M. Oreskovic, and Stamatis Agiovlasitis
Identifying factors that influence physical activity (PA) among individuals with Down syndrome is essential for PA promotion. Insight can be gained from guardians and health professionals. The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives of guardians and health professionals on facilitators and barriers of PA in individuals with Down syndrome. Interviews were conducted with 11 guardians (five mothers, four fathers, and two legal guardians) and 11 professionals (four PA specialists, three physical therapists, and four occupational therapists). Grounded theory was applied. Barriers and facilitators fit the levels of the ecological model of health behavior: (a) intrapersonal (perceived rewards), (b) interpersonal (interaction), (c) community (availability of programs), (d) organizational (school systems), and (e) policy (education). Guardians and professionals agreed on the importance of enjoyment, interaction, and programs to promote PA. Differences between groups were identified at the organizational and policy levels. PA in persons with Down syndrome is influenced by interactions between individual and environmental factors.
Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Raktim Mitra, Ritu Sharma, and Sarah A. Moore
This study explored the association between socioecological factors and outdoor physical activity (PA) and play in children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents (N = 133) completed a survey to report changes in their child’s outdoor PA and play during the pandemic (from prepandemic levels), and child, household, and neighborhood environment factors. Children with a PA-supporting parent and from multichild and White households had lower odds of reporting decreased outdoor PA. Children from multichild, higher income, married couple households and a PA-supporting parent had lower odds of decreased outdoor play. Living in neighborhoods with higher urbanization (i.e., high dwelling density, street intersections, and land-use mix) was associated with greater odds of decreased outdoor PA and play. Future research that uses larger and more representative samples of children with disabilities is needed to test for the multivariate effects of socioecological variables on outdoor PA and play.
Heidi Stanish, Samantha M. Ross, Byron Lai, Justin A. Haegele, Joonkoo Yun, and Sean Healy
The U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth has tracked 10 physical activity (PA) indicators common to the Active Healthy Kids Global Matrix since 2014. This article expands on the U.S. report cards by presenting PA indicator assessments among children and adolescents with disabilities. Grades for indicators were assigned based on a search of peer-reviewed articles presenting nationally representative data. The Global Matrix 3.0 benchmarks and grading framework guided the process. Grades for overall PA, sedentary behaviors, organized sports, and school were F, D+, D+, and D, respectively. Insufficient evidence existed to assign grades to the remaining six indicators. There is a need in the United States for targeted PA promotion strategies that are specific to children and adolescents with disabilities. Without a commitment to this effort across sectors and settings, the low grades identified in this para report card are expected to remain.