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Abstract

Abstract

This study examined the prevalence of psychological distress and well-being amongst elite athletes in the UK.

An online survey was emailed to 753 athletes within the English Institute of Sport. Response rate 52.3%. 371 participants (median age 25) completed measures of psychological distress and subjective well-being alongside demographics and sport-related variables.

High or very high psychological distress was reported by 23.7%. Poor subjective well-being was reported by 18.8%. Of those reporting psychological distress, 9% also reported good subjective well-being. The odds of psychological distress and poor well-being increased if the athlete was female (OR 2.03, distress; OR 2.00, poor well-being), currently injured or ill (OR 1.87; OR 1.93) or planning to retire (OR 4.74; OR 8.10). Likelihood of poor well-being increased if a non-podium athlete (OR 0.98). Paralympic sport athletes reported greater psychological distress than Olympic sport athletes (p = .040). Winter sport athletes reported higher psychological distress than summer sport athletes (p = .044). Overall mean score (17.9, SD 6.5) was indicative of a moderate level of psychological distress.

Mental health support plans should include regular athlete screening of both psychological distress and subjective well-being.

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