Two interrelated studies examined the role psychological factors play in the prediction and prevention of sport related injury. Study 1 involved 470 rugby players who completed measures corresponding to variables in the revised Williams and Andersen (1998) stress and injury model at the beginning of the 2001 playing season. Prospective and objective data were obtained for both the number of injuries and the time missed. Results showed that social support, the type of coping, and previous injury interacted in a conjunctive fashion to maximize the relationship between life stress and injury. Study 2 examined the effectiveness of a cognitive behavioral stress management (CBSM) intervention in reducing injury among athletes from Study 1 who were identified as having an at-risk psychological profile for injury. Forty-eight players were randomly assigned to either a CBSM intervention or a no-contact control condition. Participants completed psychological measures of coping and competitive anxiety at the beginning and end of the 2002 rugby season. The assessment of injury was identical to that used in Study 1. Results showed that those in the intervention condition reported missing less time due to injury compared to their nonintervention counterparts. The intervention group also had an increase in coping resources and a decrease in worry following the program. Taken together, both studies underscore the importance of (a) psychosocial factors in identifying those athletes most vulnerable to injury and (b) cognitive behavioral stress management programs in reducing the vulnerability to injury.
Both authors were with the Dept. of Sport and Exercise Science at the Univ. of Auckland at the time of this study. R. Maddison is now with the Clinical Trials Research Unit, School of Population Health, Univ. of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.