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.

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

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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Covassin, T., Crutcher, B., Bleecker, A., Heiden, E., Dailey, A., & Yang, J. (2014). Postinjury Anxiety and Social Support Among Collegiate Athletes: A Comparison Between Orthopaedic Injuries and Concussions Journal of Athletic Training DOI: 10.4085/1062-6059-49.2.03