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Hannah Macdougall, Paul O’Halloran, Emma Sherry and Nora Shields

The well-being needs and strengths of para-athletes in a global and sport-specific context were investigated across subjective psychological, social, and physical health and well-being dimensions. Data were drawn from (a) semistructured interviews with Australian para-athletes (n = 23), (b) a focus group with the Australian Paralympic Committee (n = 9), and (c) a confirmatory para-athlete focus group (n = 8). The well-being needs and strengths of para-athletes differed across gender, sport, level of competition, and nature of impairment. Well-being needs were an interaction between physical pain, emotional regulation, lacking purpose outside of sport, and a lack of self-acceptance, especially for athletes with acquired impairments. Well-being strengths were perceived to increase as athletes increased their level of competition, and included personal growth, optimism, strong social support networks, and contributing to multiple communities. The importance of well-being as a multidimensional concept within the global and sport-specific context for para-athletes is discussed.

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Hannah Macdougall, Paul O’Halloran, Nora Shields and Emma Sherry

This systematic review included 12 studies that compared the well-being of Para and Olympic sport athletes. Meta-analyses revealed that Para athletes, compared with Olympic sport athletes, had lower levels of self-acceptance, indicated by athletic identity, d = -0.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) [-0.77, -0.16], and body-image perceptions, d = -0.33, 95% CI [-0.59, -0.07], and differed from Olympic sport athletes in terms of their motivation, indicated by a greater mastery-oriented climate, d = 0.74, 95% CI [0.46, 1.03]. Given an inability to pool the remaining data for meta-analysis, individual standardized mean differences were calculated for other dimensions of psychological and subjective well-being. The results have implications for professionals and coaches aiming to facilitate the well-being needs of athletes under their care. Future research would benefit from incorporating established models of well-being based on theoretical rationale combined with rigorous study designs.