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  • Author: Johanna Belz x
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Johanna Belz, Jens Kleinert and Moritz Anderten

Adolescent soccer players experience many stressors and negative stress-related outcomes. Short-term stress-prevention programs are frequently implemented in youth sports, although there is limited evidence of their usefulness and effectiveness. Thus, the present study evaluated the usefulness and effectiveness of a stress-prevention workshop for adolescent soccer players. Ninety-two soccer players (age: M = 15.5 years, SD = 1.43; 31.5% female) were randomly allocated to either an intervention group or an intervention control group. To evaluate effectiveness, stress, coping, and depression were assessed at baseline (t1) and 4 weeks postworkshop (t2). To investigate usefulness, the perceived quality of results was assessed at t2. No intervention effects on stress, coping, and depression emerged, but both groups exhibited high values regarding perceived quality of results. Although one workshop might not be enough to modify stress-related parameters, it may be useful for adolescent soccer players and pave the way for long-term interventions.

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Johanna Belz, Jens Kleinert, Jeannine Ohlert, Thea Rau and Marc Allroggen

Adolescence is a vulnerable period for the development of depression. Research on depression in athletes including adolescent athletes, however, is scarce. The purpose of the present study was to assess the risk for depression depending on the athletes’ age, gender, and performance level. Data were collected from 1,799 German national and state team athletes. The PHQ-2 and the WHO-5 were administered to assess the athletes’ risk for depression and current state of psychological well-being. Overall, 13% of the athletes were screened positive for depression and 10% for impaired well-being. Adolescents, females and athletes of junior national teams showed a higher risk for depression and/or lower well-being than other subgroups. The finding that adolescent athletes are more vulnerable to suffer from depressive symptoms than adult athletes mirrors finding in the general population. Screening tools for depression should be followed up by clinical expert interviews to provide an external criterion for the obtained results.

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Jahan Heidari, Johanna Belz, Monika Hasenbring, Jens Kleinert, Claudia Levenig and Michael Kellmann

Context: Explanatory approaches for back pain (BP) in athletes focus on biomechanical factors while neglecting psychological perspectives. Psychological factors have gained importance in the prediction of injuries in athletes and BP in the general population, with stress and recovery emerging as central risk factors. However, scarce evidence exists regarding the role of these aspects for the prevalent burden of BP. Objective: To investigate the association between stress and recovery parameters and the presence of BP. Design: Cross-sectional design. Setting: The questionnaires were distributed after the training sessions. Participants: A total of 345 competitive athletes (mean age = 18.31 y [SD = 5.40]) were investigated. The classification of the athletes’ competitive status was based on performance level. Interventions: Data were collected using questionnaires for the assessment of stress, recovery, and BP. Main Outcome Measures: The authors performed a multiple logistic regression to obtain odds ratios for stress and recovery parameters with regard to the outcome variable BP status. Results: For stress, the dimension “overall stress” (odds ratio = 1.83; 95% confidence interval, 1.30–2.59; P = .001) and the scale “physical complaints” (odds ratio = 1.68; 95% confidence interval, 1.25–2.25; P = .001) of the general version of the Recovery-Stress Questionnaire resulted to be significantly associated with BP. None of the recovery-related scales displayed a statistically significant relationship with BP. Conclusion: The outcomes of this study imply a modest association between stress and the presence of BP in competitive athletes. Practitioners may take these findings into account regarding the conception of training and for monitoring purposes.

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Claudia G. Levenig, Michael Kellmann, Jens Kleinert, Johanna Belz, Tobias Hesselmann, Jahan Heidari and Monika I. Hasenbring

Context: Low back pain (LBP) is a serious health problem, both in the general population as well as in athletes. Research has shown that psychosocial aspects, such as dysfunctional pain responses, play a significant role in the chronification of LBP. Recent research supports the relevance of the multidisciplinary concept of body image in the interpretation of LBP. Objective: To examine the differences in 2 psychosocial aspects, body image and pain responses, between athletes and nonathletes with LBP. Design: Cross-sectional design. Setting: The questionnaires were distributed in the course of LBP treatment. Participants: Data from 163 athletes (mean age = 28.69 [9.6] y) and 75 nonathletes (mean age = 39.34 [12.63] y) were collected. Interventions: Data were collected by questionnaires assessing body image, pain behavior, training activity, and LBP. Main Outcome Measures: To examine group differences between athletes and nonathletes regarding body image and pain behavior, the authors performed 2-way analyses of variance with Bonferroni post hoc tests. Results: The results showed (1) a significant main effect regarding pain responses and body image, showing that participants with eustress endurance or adaptive pain behavior revealed a more positive body image in both groups compared with participants with distress endurance or fear-avoidance behavior, and (2) a significant main effect for the factor group in the body image dimension of physical efficacy, indicating a more positive body image for athletes. Conclusion: These results suggest that considering multiple risk factors for LBP, such as body image and dysfunctional pain behavior, as well as subgrouping, might be valuable for research and for broadening therapy options.