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Volume 18 (2024): Issue 1 (Mar 2024)

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The Impact of Athletic Identity, Psychological Flexibility, and Value Consistent Living on the Mental Health and Well-Being of Retired Elite Rugby Players

Jacqueline Mooney, Andrew Bethell, Chris Wagstaff, and Ross White

Retirement from sport is widely accepted as an important period of change for athletes. Existing studies have focused on investigating the mental health and well-being of current players, while limited research has explored the impact of retirement on elite rugby players. The present study aimed to examine how athletic identity, psychological flexibility, and valued living impact subjective well-being and psychological distress in retired elite rugby players. A cross-sectional, between-subject, factorial design was adopted. Seventy-seven retired elite rugby players were recruited to the Tackling Next Steps project and completed an online survey between March 2021 and December 2021. Suboptimal levels of subjective well-being were reported by 64% of retired players, and 43% reported clinical levels of distress. Valued living and psychological flexibility were shown to significantly predict subjective well-being. The results show that promoting psychological flexibility and valued living may have positive effects on subjective well-being in retired rugby players.

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Self-Reported Depression in Collegiate Athletes: The Effect of Privacy on Symptom Disclosure

Chloe M. Ouellet-Pizer, Sebastian Harenberg, Justine Vosloo, and Barbara B. Meyer

Prevalence studies on depressive symptoms in collegiate athletes have yielded varied estimations, which may be due, in part, to survey administration privacy. However, the influence of survey administration privacy (i.e., anonymous and confidential) on depressive symptom disclosure remains unknown in sport. The purposes of the current study, therefore, were twofold: (a) compare depressive symptoms reported under high- and low-privacy conditions and (b) examine factors associated with underreporting (i.e., social desirability). College athletes (N = 123) were randomly assigned to high- and low-privacy conditions. Results indicated no significant difference, F(1, 120) = 0.59, p = .446, between the prevalence of depressive symptoms reported across conditions when controlling for sex, and no significant correlation between depressive symptoms and social desirability (r = −.01, p = .886). Taken together, results indicated that survey administration privacy did not impact depressive symptom disclosure in the current sample.

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Examining the Feasibility of a Mindfulness Flow Program for the Hong Kong Archers

Ka K. Lo, Mimi M.Y. Tse, Joanne W.Y. Chung, Queenie P.S. Law, and Fenghua Sun

Mindfulness-based interventions have gained popularity among elite athletes, but their effectiveness in enhancing archery performance has been inconsistent. This study examined the feasibility of a 12-week mindfulness flow program (MFP) specifically designed for the archers and assessed the effect of the MFP on shooting performance. Twelve members of the Hong Kong Archery Team voluntarily participated in the present study. Their shooting performance, anxiety, mindfulness, and flow state were assessed before and after the MFP intervention. The results showed that the MFP was highly feasible, with 100% attendance. The athletes highly enjoyed the MFP sessions (mean rating: 7.9/10). Improved shooting performance, increased mindfulness, and flow state levels, and reduced anxiety were also observed after the intervention. These findings suggest a positive reception from and potential benefits for athletes. However, it is suggested to conduct additional research using randomized controlled trials to explore the program’s effects and applicability in enhancing sports performance.

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An Exploration of the Sources of Self-Efficacy Information in Athletic Injury Rehabilitation

Amber M. Shipherd, John E. Coumbe-Lilley, and Chelsea K. Duncan

Self-efficacy plays a vital role in an athlete’s injury and rehabilitation experience and is linked to successful rehabilitation outcomes. We sought to develop a deeper understanding of self-efficacy sources throughout injury rehabilitation using an interpretative phenomenological analysis design grounded in a pragmatist paradigm. Semistructured interviews were conducted with nine male Division II collegiate athletes throughout injury rehabilitation. Seven themes were identified as sources of athletes’ self-efficacy during rehabilitation phases, and two themes were identified as influencing participants in their selection and weighing of the sources of self-efficacy. Athletes described several sources as negatively impacting their self-efficacy, and differences were observed in the sources reported across the phases of injury rehabilitation. Results suggest the influence of sources of efficacy information fluctuates over the course of injury rehabilitation. These findings can contribute to further research in the area, as well as strategies and interventions to better assist athletes through injury rehabilitation.

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Physical Activity and Engagement Coping: A Key for Stress-Recovery in Mexican University Students

Erick-Yael Fernández-Barradas, María-Luisa Marván-Garduño, Tamara Cibrián-Llanderal, Felipe Reynoso-Sánchez, and Socorro Herrera-Meza

Physical activity and coping styles are factors that contribute to health status and to the reduction of stress. The aim of this research was to analyze the influence of physical activity and coping styles on recovery-stress state among Regular Physical Activity University Students (n = 67) and High-Performance University Athletes (n = 67) from a Mexican university. The results show statistically significant differences in the capacity of recovery from stress in High-Performance University Athletes. Additionally, two positive correlations emerged: one of engagement coping and recovery, and one of disengagement coping and stress. The interaction between engagement coping and physical activity predicted general well-being. In females, the engagement coping style predicts recovery from stress. We concluded that physical activity in combination with an engagement coping style contributes to the development of health in university students.

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National Collegiate Athletic Association Coaches’ Beliefs Toward Seeking Mental Health Services for Themselves: Instrument Validation and Exploratory Investigation

Kim Tolentino and Johannes Raabe

While the environment in which National Collegiate Athletic Association coaches operate makes them susceptible to mental health issues, many do not seek professional help. The Reasoned Action Approach posits that attitudes, perceived behavioral control, and perceived norms shape intentions for help-seeking behaviors. This study was designed to: (a) validate two commonly utilized instruments measuring psychological help-seeking beliefs for use with National Collegiate Athletic Association coaches; (b) assess coaches’ attitudes, perceived behavioral control, and perceived norms toward seeking mental health services for themselves; and (c) examine differences in beliefs based on gender, race, coaching role, age, and coaching experience. N = 1,424 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I, II, and III coaches participated. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated the Inventory of Attitudes Toward Seeking Mental Health Services provides valid and reliable measurements for participants’ beliefs toward seeking services for themselves. Participants reported moderately positive attitudes, perceived behavioral control, and perceived norms. Male coaches indicated significantly lower positive beliefs than female coaches.

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A Program and Session Evaluation of Student-Athletes’ Experiences Participating in a Mental Illness Destigmatization Intervention

Graig M. Chow, Nicole T. Gabana, Charles Cox, Brandon T. Cooper, and Matthew D. Bird

Evidence-based stigma reduction interventions for student-athletes exist, but researchers have focused on assessing their effectiveness with little attention paid to understanding how participants experience such programs. The current study aimed to qualitatively evaluate a mental illness destigmatization intervention delivered to 35 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes. The program consisted of four weekly 1 hr empirically based sessions. Program-level results showed that participants increased their understanding of student-athlete mental health and identified actionable ways to combat stigma. Session-level results revealed intervention components impacted knowledge and application consistent with their theoretical underpinnings (i.e., mental health literacy). Practical guidelines based on the findings suggest stigma reduction interventions aimed at student-athletes should provide information specific to the athletic context (i.e., common symptoms experienced by athletes), consider content that moves beyond mental health literacy (e.g., contact-based interventions), and present opportunities for participants to apply what they have learned (i.e., roll play displaying empathy).

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Psychology of Ultrarunning: Evaluating Validation, Social Identity, and Disharmony in the Long-Distance Experience

Thomas S. Mueller

This study (N = 394) investigated motivators and detractors in ultrarunners. Latent factors Validation, Social Identity, and Disharmony were identified. Network analysis supported Social Identity through the hub node “ultra tells a lot about me” associated with “glimpse of who I am” with “can tell a lot about the person.” The regression “upset if unable to participate,” F(5, 365) = 16.90, p < .001, R 2 = .019, view Cognitive Involvement (t = 4.54, p < .001), Disharmony (t = 2.96, p = .003), and Social Identity (t = 2.41, p = .016) as significant predictors. “Lone Wolf” isolationist runners were highly masculine and motivated by emotional involvement. Back and middle of the pack runners viewed Disharmony differently than front of the pack runners. Text analysis sentiment “Affect Friends and Family” supports the Disharmony factor. Event promoters and product marketers should acknowledge ultrarunning motivators and detractors, and promote wellness among competitors.

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Using the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3 With Athletes: A Psychometric Evaluation of Factor Structure and Measurement Invariance

Christopher E.J. DeWolfe, Pablo Romero-Sanchiz, Margo C. Watt, and Sherry H. Stewart

To meaningfully use the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3 (ASI-3) with athletes, measurement invariance must be established. Thus, we sought to determine appropriate factor structures for the ASI-3 in an athlete sample, assess measurement invariance between an athlete sample and a less active sample, and compare ASI-3 scores between these groups. Two university student samples were recruited: an athlete sample (n = 216) and a less active control sample (n = 321). Results supported bifactor and hierarchical factor structures for the ASI-3 overall and in the athlete sample. Measurement invariance of these factor structures was established. ASI-3 score comparisons indicated that the athlete sample had significantly lower levels of global anxiety sensitivity, and lower physical and social concerns. Results support the use of the ASI-3 to address mental health concerns in athletes and permit meaningful comparisons between athletes and nonathletes using the ASI-3 and its subscales.