An investigation into the psychological responses of injured athletes
This thesis examined the psychological responses of injured athletes as a basis for designing theoretically meaningful intervention strategies to expedite recovery from sports injuries. The thesis is written as a series of research papers (studies). The methodological approaches adopted ranged from quasi-experimental to qualitative research in a naturalistic rehabilitation setting. The first study reported the development of a theoretically derived psychometric measure to assess athletes psychological responses to injury, initially using exploratory factor analysis and subsequently, confirmatory factor analysis. The Psychological Responses to Sport Injury Inventory (PRSII) comprised five sub scales (Devastation, Dispirited, Attempts to Rationalise, Isolation and Reorganisation). In its final form the PRSII contained 20 items. The PRSII was found to possess adequate psychometric integrity. The second study examined the effects of a goal-setting intervention on injured athletes rehabilitation adherence, perceptions of self and treatment efficacy and the psychological response variables assessed by the PRSII. The study provided support for the effects of goal-setting upon athlete adherence, self-efficacy, treatment efficacy, and reorganisation. However, the hypothesised effects for dispirited and isolation were not found. As a result, a qualitative follow-up study was conducted to more closely examine the effects of the goal-setting intervention. The qualitative follow-up study proposed a number of possible mechanisms for the effects of the goal-setting intervention. These included the effects of goal-setting on self-efficacy, attributions, perceptions of control, and attention. The final, collaborative action research study employed a multi-modal intervention with three athletes rehabilitating from injury. The efficacy of social support, goal-setting, imagery, simulation training and verbal persuasion emerged from the study. The study highlighted the importance of outcome expectancy and goal flexibility. In relation to the re-entry phase of rehabilitation, confidence in the injured body part, and the ability to meet game demands emerged as important to participants successful return to competition.