Investigating correlates of athletic identity and sport-related injury outcomes: a scoping review

Tian Renton, Brian Petersen, Sidney Kennedy
BMJ Open 2021 April 9, 11 (4): e044199

OBJECTIVES: To conduct a scoping review that (1) describes what is known about the relationship between athletic identity and sport-related injury outcomes and (2) describes the relationship that an injury (as an exposure) has on athletic identity (as an outcome) in athletes.

DESIGN: Scoping review.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of n=1852 athletes from various sport backgrounds and levels of competition.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary measure used within the studies identified was the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale. Secondary outcome measures assessed demographic, psychosocial, behavioural, physical function and pain-related constructs.

RESULTS: Twenty-two studies were identified for inclusion. Samples were dominated by male, Caucasian athletes. The majority of studies captured musculoskeletal injuries, while only three studies included sport-related concussion. Athletic identity was significantly and positively associated with depressive symptom severity, sport performance traits (eg, ego-orientation and mastery-orientation), social network size, physical self-worth, motivation, rehabilitation overadherence, mental toughness and playing through pain, as well as injury severity and functional recovery outcomes. Findings pertaining to the association that an injury (as an exposure) had on athletic identity (as an outcome) were inconsistent and limited.

CONCLUSIONS: Athletic identity was most frequently associated with psychosocial, behavioural and injury-specific outcomes. Future research should seek to include diverse athlete samples (eg, women, athletes of different races, para-athletes) and should continue to reference theoretical injury models to inform study methodologies and to specify variables of interest for further exploration.

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