Investigating well-being in female athletes: What's on the flip side of the coin?


Objectives: Research on mental health of athletes has burgeoned with the prevalence of ill-being, role of the coach, and mental health literacy often the focus. Yet, comparatively little research has been conducted on athlete well-being. The purpose of this study was to investigate (1) well-being in female university-sport basketball players and (2) variation in well-being over-time. Methods: Using a longitudinal multi-wave research design, eleven female university basketball players (Mage = 20.29 years) provided self-report data weekly for 22 consecutive weeks. Well-being was assessed using the 7-item Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS; Stewart-Brown et al., 2008). Scores across this scale range from 7 to 35 with higher scores indicating greater well-being. Results: Athletes reported 'average' well-being across the 22 weeks based on SWEMWBS scores (M = 22.76; SD = 1.98) with one (9.09%) below the 'average' threshold. Repeated-measures Analysis of Variance indicated statistical differences in well-being (F(3.54, 35.42) = 3.24, p = .027; ?p2 = .25). Magnitude-based differences showcased considerable individual variability in athlete's well-being over time with five (45.45%) 'very likely' reporting increased well-being and one (9.09%) 'very likely' reporting decreased well-being. Five athletes (45.45%) reported 'minimal-to-no' change in well-being across the 22 weeks. Discussion: It is evident that the well-being of female basketball athletes could be improved given the interpretation of aggregate scores, combined with individual trajectories, in this study. Insight pertaining to sport ecology factors with logical and practical links to well-being is necessary to support athlete growth and development.

Acknowledgments: Funding Sources: Match of Minds (Brock University), Brock University DGS Spring Fellowship