Overuse Injury, Substance Use, and Resilience in Collegiate Female Athlete

Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2021 Jul 1;16(4):1104-1114. doi: 10.26603/001c.25760. eCollection 2021.


Background: Overuse injury is a common stressor experienced by female collegiate athletes and is often underreported. In response, athletes may develop negative coping skills such as substance use. Alternatively, resilience is a modifiable trait that may positively influence response to musculoskeletal injuries and substance use.

Purpose: To provide an updated epidemiological profile of overuse injury and substance use and examine the relationship between resilience, overuse injury, and substance use among collegiate female athletes.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Methods: Two-hundred and thirty female collegiate athletes were classified into overuse injury and resilience groups. Overuse injury, pain, and substance use incidence proportions (IP) were calculated. Kruskal-Wallis analyses were performed to investigate differences in substance use among resilience groups. Analyses of covariance were performed to evaluate differences in overuse injuries, substantial overuse injuries, and time loss injuries, among resilience groups.

Results: IP for pain was 45.0% (95% CI: 38.2-51.9); Overuse injury 52.0% (45.1-58.9); Alcohol use 35.1% (28.6-41.6); Electronic cigarette use 19.5% (14.6-24.9); Cigarette use 2.8% (6-5.1); and Drug use 3.3% (0.9-5.8). No significant differences were found between resilience groups for the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center Overuse Injury Questionnaire (OSTRC) variables (Pain: p=0.102; Overuse injury: p=0.331; Substantial overuse injury: p=0.084; Not playing: p=0.058), alcohol (p=0.723), or combined substance use (p=0.069).

Conclusions: Pain and overuse injury prevalence is high among female collegiate athletes. Alcohol followed by electronic cigarette use were the most commonly utilized substances. No significant differences were identified in substance use or overuse injury presentation between resilience groups, though further investigation is warranted.

Level of evidence: 3.

Keywords: female athlete; overuse injury; resilience; substance use.