Postinjury anxiety and social support among collegiate athletes: a comparison between orthopedic injuries and concussions.
Covassin T, Crutcher B, Bleecker A, Heiden EO, Dailey A, and Yang J. J. Athl Training. 2014; 49(2):000-000.
Take Home Message: Collegiate athletes who sustained a concussion or an orthopedic injury use their social support networks similarly during the healing process. While the two groups have similar anxiety levels, patients with a perceived higher level of social support appear to have lower levels of postinury anxiety.
Despite the high prevalence of both concussive and orthopedic injuries sustained each year, little is understood regarding the anxiety level and social support used by these athletes. A better understanding of the similarities and differences between these 2 groups would allow clinicians to better render comprehensive care to their patients. Therefore, Covassin and colleagues compared the anxiety and social support of 63 athletes with concussions with a matched group of 63 athletes with orthopaedic injuries (matched by sex, sport, and injury severity). The authors selected the athletes from a study of 525 athletes from 2 Big Ten universities. Athletes completed a baseline survey to assess demographic information, history of injury, and trait anxiety. All 126 athletes completed a follow-up survey within 1 week of sustaining the injury. The authors assessed anxiety and social support via the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and the modified 6-Item Social Support Questionnaire respectively. Overall, both concussed and orthopedic injury patients utilized their social support networks similarly, relying on family (89% vs. 87%, respectively), friends (78% vs. 84%), teammates (65% vs. 65%), athletic trainers (48% vs. 57%), and coaches (47% vs. 51%). On average, the patients with an orthopaedic injury reported more satisfaction than those with a concussion when it came to support from family, athletic trainers, and teammates. Both groups exhibited no difference in anxiety (trait or state) but satisfaction with social support was related with less postinjury state anxiety levels.
Ultimately, this study supports the need for clinicians to assess and understand their role in the rehabilitation process to improve mental and physical health. While all athletes used their social support systems in similar fashions, 2 messages can be taken away from these results. One, clinicians play a significant role in our athlete’s support system as identified by the Social Support Questionnaire. Secondly, the perceived social support network of an athlete may influence their postinjury anxiety levels. As clinicians, we should be aware of this. Perhaps even measuring athlete’s perceived social support could help clinicians identify an athlete who may need extra social support during recovery. This could lead to better comprehensive care for our athletes and perhaps a faster and happier return to activity.
Questions for Discussion: Would you consider measuring athlete’s perceived social support? How do you play a role in your athlete’s social support system following injury?
Written by: Kyle Harris
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban
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