In a sample of collegiate athletes, the present study assessed whether there’s a discrepancy between perceived and true team norms related to bystander engagement to prevent sexual assault. Collegiate athletes completed surveys (n = 167, response rate = 55%) assessing their own expected likelihood of engaging in behaviors related to the prevention of sexual assault. A mirrored set of items asked about what they believe their teammates would do in the same situations. From these responses, perceived and true team norms were calculated. Among both male and female athletes, perceived norms were significantly less supportive of sexual assault prevention than were true norms. Perceived norms were significantly predictive of an individual’s own expected behaviors. Sport psychologists and other campus mental health professionals who are helping develop programming about sexual assault prevention should incorporate norm correction into their efforts. Consideration should be given to how the unique dynamics of male and female sports settings might influence receptivity to norm correcting efforts.
College Athletes, Pluralistic Ignorance and Bystander Behaviors to Prevent Sexual Assault
Athlete Burnout Prevention Strategies Used by U.S. Collegiate Soccer Coaches
Emily Kroshus and J.D. DeFreese
Athlete burnout is an important psychological health concern that may be influenced by coach behaviors. Participants were 933 collegiate soccer coaches who described their utilization of burnout prevention strategies. Deductive content analysis was used to categorize and interpret responses. The most frequently endorsed prevention strategies involved managing/limiting physical stressors. Reducing nonsport stressors and promoting autonomy and relatedness were also endorsed. Motivational climate changes and secondary prevention strategies were infrequently reported. These findings can help inform the design of educational programming to ensure that all coaches are aware of the range of ways in which they can help prevent athlete burnout.
Pre-post Evaluation of the “Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Wellness” Module for College Coaches
Emily Kroshus, Jessica Wagner, David L. Wyrick, and Brian Hainline
This study sought to determine whether completion of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s “Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Wellness” online module for coaches increased mental health literacy, reduced stigma, and increased intentions to: 1) communicate proactively with team members about the importance of mental health care seeking, and 2) respond appropriately to support an athlete believed to be struggling with a mental health issue. College head coaches completed pre-test surveys (n = 969) and immediate post-test surveys (n = 347, completion rate = 36%). Module completion was associated with increased mental health literacy, decreased stigma about help seeking and increased intentions to engage in culture setting communication. These findings suggest that the online module is a good start for coach education about mental health; however, additional modifications may be warranted to the extent coach referral to sports medicine staff or provision of emotional support to student-athletes struggling with mental health concerns are considered desired behaviors.
Coach Support of High School Student-Athletes Struggling With Anxiety or Depression
Emily Kroshus, Sara P.D. Chrisman, David Coppel, and Stanley Herring
This study sought to identify factors that influence whether coaches support athletes struggling with depression and anxiety. Participants were U.S. public high school coaches who completed a written survey assessing their experiences, attitudes, and behaviors related to student-athlete mental health (n = 190 coaches, 92% response rate). Around two-thirds of coaches were concerned about mental health issues among the students they coached. They were more likely to extend help to a struggling athlete if they were aware of their school’s mental health plan and had greater confidence related to helping, including feeling confident in their ability to identify symptoms of mental health disorders. Mental health professionals, including sport psychologists who work with or consult with coaches, are well positioned to help provide coaches with the education necessary to be able to support and encourage care seeking by athletes who are struggling with anxiety or depression.
Sport-Related Concussion Reporting and Coach-Athlete Attachment Among Collegiate Student-Athletes
Jeffrey J. Milroy, Stephen Hebard, Emily Kroshus, and David L. Wyrick
Between 2001 and 2015, 3.4 million traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurrences in the U.S. were accounted for by sport participation. It is estimated between 12% and 60% of athletes delay seeking care after sustaining a concussion. Differences in sport-related concussion (SRC) reporting have been attributed to several different factors. Whereas prior research related to SRC reporting behavior focus on normative and competitive pressures to continue play, less attention is given to the interpersonal context in which reporting takes place. Grounded in attachment theory, this study investigated relationships between coach-athlete attachment and help-seeking behavior. Findings suggest that as coach-athlete anxiousness increases, not reporting increases. and as coach-athlete secureness increases, not reporting decreases. Logistic regression analyses indicate that secure coach attachment significantly predicts greater likelihood of SRC reporting. These findings underscore the important role coach-athlete relationships may have on care-seeking behaviors of student-athletes and can inform individual and group interventions promoting SRC reporting.
A Content Analysis of Mental Health Literacy Education for Sport Coaches
Stephen P. Hebard, James E. Bissett, Emily Kroshus, Emily R. Beamon, and Aviry Reich
Sport coaches can play an influential role in athletes’ mental health help seeking through purposeful communication, destigmatization of mental health concerns, and supportive relationships. To positively engage in these behaviors, coaches require mental health knowledge (or literacy), positive attitudes about that knowledge, and self-efficacy to use that knowledge. Guided by a multidimensional health literacy framework, we conducted a content analysis of web content and scholarly literature to identify health education programming for coaches that addressed athlete mental health. A purposive sample of Olympic National Governing Bodies, collegiate athletic associations, high school sport associations, youth sport governing bodies, and the scholarly literature were analyzed. We found inconsistent programming regarding a range of mental health disorders, behaviors critical to mental health promotion, and critical components of mental health literacy. Implications and next steps for mental health literacy support for coaches are discussed.
History of Concussion Diagnosis, Differences in Concussion Reporting Behavior, and Self-Described Reasons for Non-Report
Emily Kroshus, Sara P.D. Chrisman, Jeffrey J. Milroy, and Christine M. Baugh
Purpose: Assess whether athletes with a prior concussion diagnosis are more likely to continue play with a possible concussion. Additionally, explore whether reasons for concussion under-reporting are different among athletes with a prior concussion when compared to other athletes. Methods: Cross-sectional survey of 328 collegiate athletes. Results: Athletes with a prior concussion diagnosis had significantly greater relative risk of continuing play while symptomatic of a possible concussion during their most recent season compared to athletes without prior concussion diagnosis. Significant differences exist in the reasons that athletes provided for not reporting by history of concussion. Conclusions: Findings suggest that learning may have occurred as a result of the prior diagnosis; however, this learning did not appear to result in safer reporting behavior. Additional research is necessary to clarify why athletes who have been previously diagnosed with a concussion are more likely to continue playing while experiencing concussion symptoms.
Athlete Resilience Trajectories Across Competitive Training: The Influence of Physical and Psychological Stress
Nikki E. Barczak-Scarboro, Emily Kroshus, Brett Pexa, Johna K. Register Mihalik, and J.D. DeFreese
Competitive sport involves physical and psychological stressors, such as training load and stress perceptions, that athletes must adapt to in order to maintain health and performance. Psychological resilience, one’s capacity to equilibrate or adapt affective and behavioral responses to adverse physical or emotional experiences, is an important topic in athlete training and performance. The study purpose was to investigate associations of training load and perceived sport stress with athlete psychological resilience trajectories. Sixty-one collegiate club athletes (30 females and 31 males) completed self-reported surveys over 6 weeks of training. Athletes significantly differed in resilience at the beginning of competitive training. Baseline resilience differences were associated with resilience trajectories. Perceived stress and training load were negatively associated with resilience. Physical and psychological stressors had a small but statistically significant impact on resilience across weeks of competitive training, indicating that both types of stressors should be monitored to maintain athlete resilience.