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The Relationship Between Gratitude and Religious Identification of NCAA Athletes: A Replication Study

Nicole T. Gabana, Jeffrey B. Ruser, Mariya A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart, and Jenelle N. Gilbert

A holistic, multicultural approach to student-athlete mental health, well-being, and performance promotes the consideration of spiritual and religious identities in counseling and consultation. Preliminary research supports the interconnectedness of spirituality, religiosity, and gratitude in athletes; thus, this study sought to replicate Gabana, D’Addario, Luzzeri, and Soendergaard's study (2020) and extend the literature by examining a larger, independently sampled, more diverse data set and multiple types of gratitude. National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I–III student-athletes (N = 596) were surveyed to better understand how religious and spiritual identity related to trait, general-state, and sport-state gratitude. Results supported past research; athletes who self-identified as being both spiritual and religious reported greater dispositional (trait) gratitude than those who self-identified as spiritual/nonreligious or nonspiritual/nonreligious. Between group differences were not found when comparing general-state and sport-state gratitude. Findings strengthen and extend the understanding of spirituality, religion, and gratitude in sport. Limitations, practical implications, and future directions are discussed.

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Examining the Relationships Between Gratitude and Spiritual and Religious Identification Among Collegiate Athletes

Nicole T. Gabana, Aaron D’Addario, Matteo Luzzeri, Stinne Soendergaard, and Y. Joel Wong

Salient aspects of an athlete’s identity hold implications for how sport psychology practitioners conceptualize and intervene on both the mental health and performance realms of the athlete person. Given that spirituality, religiosity, and gratitude have been associated in previous literature, the current study examined whether athletes differed in dispositional gratitude based on their spiritual and religious identification. Results indicated that among 331 NCAA Division I-III athletes, those who identified as both spiritual and religious scored significantly higher in dispositional gratitude than self-identified spiritual/non-religious and non-spiritual/non-religious athletes. Non-spiritual/non-religious and spiritual/non-religious athletes did not significantly differ in levels of gratitude. Findings and limitations of the current study warrant further investigation on this topic, and recommendations for future research and practice are provided.

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Gratitude, Burnout, and Sport Satisfaction Among College Student-Athletes: The Mediating Role of Perceived Social Support

Nicole T. Gabana, Jesse A. Steinfeldt, Y. Joel Wong, and Y. Barry Chung

The present study explored the relationships among gratitude, sport satisfaction, athlete burnout, and perceived social support among college student-athletes in the United States. Participants (N = 293) from 16 different types of sports at 8 NCAA Division I and III institutions were surveyed. Results indicated gratitude was negatively correlated with burnout and positively correlated with sport satisfaction, suggesting that athletes who reported more general gratitude also experienced lower levels of burnout and greater levels of satisfaction with their college sport experience. Perceived social support was found to be a mediator in both relationships. Limitations and implications for research and practice are discussed.

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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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A Program to Reduce Stigma Toward Mental Illness and Promote Mental Health Literacy and Help-Seeking in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Student-Athletes

Graig M. Chow, Matthew D. Bird, Nicole T. Gabana, Brandon T. Cooper, and Martin A. Swanbrow Becker

Student-athletes are susceptible to mental health problems that disrupt optimal functioning and well-being. Despite having many protective factors, student-athletes represent an at-risk subgroup of college students who experience mental health concerns due to the distress of balancing multiple obligations. However, many student-athletes underutilize psychological services. Stigma is the main barrier preventing student-athletes from seeking help, and mental health literacy (MHL) interventions addressing knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders have traditionally been used to destigmatize mental illness. This study investigated the impact of a 4-week program on stigma, MHL, and attitudes and intentions toward seeking help with 33 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes. The program was composed of four science-based interventions—MHL, empathy, counter stereotyping, and contact—delivered face-to-face within a group setting. MHL, attitudes toward seeking help, and intentions to seek counseling improved from preintervention to postintervention and to 1-month follow-up. Self-stigma was reduced from preintervention to postintervention.