Psychological consequences of athletic injury among high-level competitors

Res Q Exerc Sport. 1994 Dec;65(4):347-54. doi: 10.1080/02701367.1994.10607639.


Injury prohibiting continued athletic participation has been hypothesized to have a predictable emotional impact on athletes (Rotella & Heyman, 1986). However, the psychological impact of injury has not been well documented. This study examined the psychological reactions to injury among 343 male collegiate athletes participating in 10 sports. All athletes were assessed using measures of depression, anxiety, and self-esteem during preseason physical examinations. Injured athletes along with matched controls were later assessed within one week of experiencing an athletic injury and 2 months later. A 4 x 3 (Injury Status x Time of Testing) repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance (DM MANOVA) revealed that injured athletes exhibited greater depression and anxiety and lower self-esteem than controls immediately following physical injury and at follow-up 2 months later. These findings supported the general observation that physically injured athletes experience a period of emotional distress that in some cases may be severe enough to warrant clinical intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Athletic Injuries / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Personality Inventory
  • Self Concept
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology