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A longitudinal examination of the motivation and mental health of elite athletes
Sheehan, Rachel B.
The primary aims of this thesis were: (i) to examine motivation-related and mental health variables among elite athletes; (ii) to quantify changes in motivation-related and mental health variables among elite athletes over time; and, (iii) to investigate the associations between motivation-related and mental health variables among elite athletes at baseline and over time. Seven psychometric inventories were administered to 325 athletes across 14 teams in six sports throughout Ireland: Sport Motivation Scale II; Perceived Motivational Climate in Sport Questionnaire II; Basic Need Satisfaction in Sport Scale; Profile of Mood States – Brief; Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomology – Self Report; Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index; and, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory – Y2. Data collection continued for the full competitive season. Based on standard instructional sets for the inventories, motivation, motivational climate and basic needs satisfaction were assessed quarterly, sleep quality and anxiety symptoms monthly, and total mood disturbance (TMD) and depressive symptoms weekly. Overall, the athletes reported adaptive motivational patterns, with scores indicating high self-determination, perceptions of a task climate, and satisfaction of basic needs. They also reported low (good) TMD and anxiety symptoms, but elevated depressive symptoms and poor sleep quality. Results of cross-sectional structural equation modelling (SEM) reinforced previously supported pathways between motivational climate, basic needs, and motivation. Additionally, controlled motivation regulations were positively associated with the four mental health outcomes, while integrated regulation had a negative association with anxiety, and intrinsic regulation had a positive association with depressive symptoms. Longitudinal data for both student-athletes and club athletes revealed that motivationrelated variables were predominantly stable, while mental health outcomes improved over time. Significant associations between baseline motivation-related variables and later mental health variables reinforced previous research and some pathways in the SEM. Associations between baseline mental health variables and later motivation-related variables suggest that these relationships may be reciprocal, indicating further interconnectedness between these two areas. The data underscore the complexity of motivation and mental health among athletes, and highlight the importance of considering the influence of motivation on athlete mental health. Implications for working with student-athletes and club athletes, and considerations for psychological monitoring are presented. To this end, the present research reinforces and extends previous research in sport psychology, providing insights for both researchers and practitioners.
Keyword(s): elite athletes; mental health; motivation
Publication Date:
Type: Doctoral thesis
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Language(s): English
Institution: University of Limerick
Publisher(s): University of Limerick
Supervisor(s): Campbell, Mark J.
Herring, Matthew P.
First Indexed: 2019-02-10 06:26:13 Last Updated: 2019-02-10 06:26:13