The facilitative nature of avoidance coping within sports injury rehabilitation

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Apr;20(2):235-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.00890.x. Epub 2009 Apr 20.


Avoidance coping has commonly been reported within literature to be a debilitative process. However, in situations where goal attainment is reduced or eradicated avoidance coping strategies appear to have some benefit. The aim of this study was to identify the role of avoidance coping within the sports injury rehabilitation setting. A mixed methodological approach was utilized with four professional male rugby union players, concurrent with their rehabilitation from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery. Twice monthly interviews were conducted with each player, along with a self-report diary and the Coping with Health, Injuries and Problems (CHIP; Endler & Parker, 2000) inventory. Content analysis showed six higher-order themes split into two general dimensions: (a) behavioral avoidance coping (physical distraction, social interaction, maladaptive behaviors), and (b) cognitive avoidance coping (denial, thought stopping, cognitive distraction). Results suggest avoidance coping strategies facilitate control of short-term emotional states, as well has appearing to have long-term benefits for injured players. Particular benefits were associated with undertaking alternate work within the sports organization.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Athletic Injuries / psychology*
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Football / injuries
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult