Postinjury anxiety and social support among collegiate athletes: a comparison between orthopaedic injuries and concussions

J Athl Train. 2014 Jul-Aug;49(4):462-8. doi: 10.4085/1062-6059-49.2.03. Epub 2014 Mar 27.


Context: When an athlete is injured, the primary focus of the sports medicine team is to treat the physical effects of the injury. However, many injured athletes experience negative psychological responses, including anxiety, regarding their injury.

Objective: To compare the anxiety and social support of athletes with concussions and a matched group of athletes with orthopaedic injuries.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Athletic training room.

Patients or other participants: A total of 525 injuries among athletes from 2 Big Ten universities were observed. Of these, 63 concussion injuries were matched with 63 orthopaedic injuries for the athlete's sex, sport, and time loss due to injury.

Main outcome measure(s): Clinical measures included the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (which measures both state and trait anxiety) and the modified 6-item Social Support Questionnaire.

Results: The group with concussions relied on their family for social support 89% of the time, followed by friends (78%), teammates (65%), athletic trainers (48%), coaches (47%), and physicians (35%). The group with orthopaedic injuries relied on their family for social support 87% of the time, followed by friends (84%), teammates (65%), athletic trainers (57%), coaches (51%), and physicians (36%). We found no differences for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (t = -1.38, P = .193) between the concussed and orthopaedic-injury groups. Social Support Questionnaire scores were significant predictors for postinjury state anxiety. Specifically, increased scores were associated with decreased postinjury state anxiety (β = -4.21, P = .0001).

Conclusions: Both the concussed athletes and those with orthopaedic injuries experienced similar state and trait anxiety and relied on similar sources of social support postinjury. However, athletes with orthopaedic injuries reported greater satisfaction with support from all sources compared with concussed athletes. In contrast, concussed athletes showed more significant predictor models of social support on state anxiety at return to play.

Keywords: psychology; return to play; state anxiety; trait anxiety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / rehabilitation*
  • Athletes*
  • Athletic Injuries / complications
  • Athletic Injuries / psychology*
  • Brain Concussion / complications
  • Brain Concussion / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Social Support*
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Young Adult