A longitudinal examination of changes in mental health among elite Canadian athletes
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This study explored how athletes' symptoms of mental disorders changed over the course of pandemic year. Predictors of baseline levels and changes in symptoms of mental disorders were also examined. Surveys were completed four times throughout a year by Canadian athletes training for the 2020 Olympics/Paralympics (ntime1 = 186, ntime2 = 142, ntime3 = 123, ntime4 = 108). Surveys included demographics questions, measures of perceived stress, training load, social support, coping, self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and disordered eating. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and latent growth modelling. The prevalence of mental disorder symptoms was high at baseline and there was no significant change over time. Scores for the three disorders were significantly correlated. Female athletes had higher scores for disordered eating at baseline. Higher levels of perceived stress predicted higher scores on mental disorder measures. Longitudinal tracking of symptoms of mental disorders among elite athletes is important because it allows researchers to explore whether disorder symptomologies change; rates of mental disorder symptoms were high at baseline and stayed high over the course of a year. More research is needed to explore possible gender differences in rates of disorder symptoms, and to understand how those symptoms change over time.
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