Masters Athlete Screening Study (MASS): Insights Into the Psychological Impact of Cardiovascular Preparticipation Screening

Clin J Sport Med. 2021 Nov 1;31(6):494-500. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000802.


Objective: To determine the psychological impact of a cardiovascular disease (CVD) diagnosis identified during preparticipation screening (PPS) of masters athletes.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Masters athletes diagnosed with CVD through the Masters Athletes Screening Study.

Participants: Sixty-seven athletes (89.6% male, mean age at diagnosis 60.1 ± 7.1 years, range 40-76) with diagnoses of coronary artery disease (CAD) (73.1%), high premature ventricular contraction burden (9.0%), mitral valve prolapse (7.5%), atrial fibrillation (AF) (3.0%), bicuspid aortic valve (3.0%), aortic dilatation (1.5%), coronary anomaly (1.5%), and rheumatic heart disease (1.5%). Three participants had multiple diagnoses.

Intervention: Online survey distributed to masters athletes identified with CVD.

Main outcome measures: Assessment of psychological distress [Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R)], perceptions of screening, and preferred support by CVD type.

Results: The median total IES-R and subscale scores were within the normal range {median [interquartile range (IQR)] total 2.0 [0-6.0]; intrusion 1.0 [0-3.0]; avoidance 0 [0-3.0]; hyperarousal 0 [0-1.0]}. Athletes with bicuspid aortic valve [20.5 (IQR, 4.0-37.0)], AF [7.0 (IQR, 0-14.0)], and severe CAD [5.5 (IQR, 1.0-12.0)] had the highest total IES-R scores. One individual with bicuspid aortic valve reported a significant stress reaction. Ten athletes (14.9%) had scores >12. Ninety-three percent of athletes were satisfied having undergone PPS. Preferred type of support varied by cardiovascular diagnosis.

Conclusions: The majority of masters athletes diagnosed with CVD through PPS do not experience significant levels of psychological distress. Athletes diagnosed with more severe types of CVD should be monitored for psychological distress. Support should be provided through a multidisciplinary and individualized approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Athletes*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged