Fear of re-injury in people who have returned to sport following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery

J Sci Med Sport. 2012 Nov;15(6):488-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2012.03.015. Epub 2012 Jun 12.


Objectives: To examine fear of re-injury in athletes who had returned to regular sports participation following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery.

Design: Cross-sectional case series.

Methods: A self-report questionnaire was used to collect data 2-7 years following surgery. Key inclusion criteria were regular participation in sport prior to injury and participation in sport at the time of the study.

Results: A sample of 209 (88 females, 121 males) at a mean of 39.6 ± 13.8 months post surgery participated. Overall, participants did not express fear of re-injury, scoring >6/10 (where 10 was the most positive response) on all questions. In terms of the total score and for six out of eight questions, participants who returned to their pre-injury sports level had significantly less fear of re-injury than those who had not returned to their pre-injury level. Females had significantly more concern than males about the environmental conditions experienced while playing (mean 6.1 compared to 7.5). On three out of eight questions, individuals who had surgery more than 3 months after injury had a greater fear of re-injury than those who had their surgery closer to the time of injury.

Conclusions: Athletes participating in sport 2-7 years following their anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction generally appear to do so without fear of re-injury. However, gender, the timing of surgery following injury and the level of sport the athletes returned to may be associated with fear of re-injury following surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / psychology*
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recovery of Function
  • Recurrence
  • Self Report
  • Sex Factors
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Young Adult