Stress is a psychophysical condition that causes an impairment in athletes’ performance by causing an increase in sympathetic activity and an autonomic imbalance. The current methods for the measurement of psychophysiological stress introduce the use of the heart rate variability as a useful index of the well-being of these people. The heart rate variability corresponds to the time intervals between consecutive heartbeats, such as an irregularity in the normal sinus heart rhythm whose variability is due to the control exercised by a complex system of mechanisms, including the respiratory control system, and provides information about the activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. This review aims at summarizing the promising results, despite small amount, of the recent literature on the efficacy of heart rate variability biofeedback on the autonomic imbalance and psychophysical well-being of athletes as well as cognitive and motor performance.
Carlo Pruneti, Simone Ferrari, and Sara Guidotti
Siobhan K. Fitzpatrick and Janine V. Olthuis
American student-athletes (SAs) are at heightened risk for hazardous alcohol consumption compared with their nonathlete peers. However, little is known about this risk or the influence of psychosocial predictors on drinking behavior among Canadian SAs. This study compared rates of alcohol use across Canadian SAs and nonathletes and investigated whether the use of athlete-specific psychosocial predictors can improve the prediction of alcohol use outcomes in SAs. Participants (179 varsity athletes and 366 nonathletes) completed anonymous self-report questionnaires. Results suggest that Canadian athletes are at a heightened risk for experiencing alcohol-related problems compared with nonathletes, with general psychosocial predictors explaining the majority of variance in SA alcohol use. However, and quite notably, athlete-specific positive reinforcement motives predicted SA binge drinking. This research provides some of the first evidence of drinking-related problems among Canadian SAs and supports the potential use of preventative efforts to help SAs develop safe strategies for alcohol use.
Lindsey E. Slavin, Tess M. Palmateer, Trent A. Petrie, and E. Whitney G. Moore
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.
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.
Masood Mahfooz, Young-Eun Noh, and Eng Wah Teo
Evaluating athletes’ knowledge of and attitudes toward sports-related concussions is important. However, there is limited research involving South Asian athletes, partly due to the lack of a valid and reliable tool. This study, therefore, aimed to translate and validate the Rosenbaum Concussion Knowledge and Attitude Survey—Student Version, an established tool used to measure knowledge and attitude toward concussion, into Urdu. Rosenbaum Concussion Knowledge and Attitude Survey—Student Version was translated into Urdu using the standard guidelines and then completed by 369 athletes participating in contact sports at different universities in Pakistan. Confirmatory factor analysis was performed on the Concussion Attitude Index items to examine the underlying factorial structure. Construct validity of Concussion Attitude Index factors was also investigated using convergent and discriminant validity. The results showed that the Urdu version of the Rosenbaum Concussion Knowledge and Attitude Survey—Student Version has good psychometric properties and is a valid and reliable tool for evaluating Urdu-speaking athletes’ knowledge of and attitudes toward concussions.