Exploring the Effect of Social Support from Sport Medicine Staff on Injured Female Athletes’ Well-Being During Rehabilitation


Sport injury is a prevalent setback experienced by athletes, and is often associated with decreased psychological well-being (Mosewich et al., 2014; Samuel et al., 2015). Following injury, athletes spend more time in physiotherapy, and physiotherapists are an important source of support for athletes (Mosewich et al., 2014; Piussi et al., 2021). Female athletes represent an understudied population in the present literature, which emphasizes the need to study this demographic (Cnen et al., 2021). The purpose of this research was to explore the experiences of female athletes and their interactions with sport medicine staff during injury rehabilitation. Eleven high performance female athletes participated; all had sustained a musculoskeletal injury that removed them from sport. Participants were between 18-27 years of age and played a variety of sports at varsity institutions (field hockey, rugby, soccer, water polo). Data were collected using two semi-structured interviews and six audio diary entries over six weeks. An overarching theme of mattering was identified within the collected data. Results demonstrate that sport medicine staff who provided athletes with clear information about rehabilitation, while also being encouraging, accessible, and perceived as competent made athletes feel that they mattered. Sport medicine staff were perceived as competent when they tried new exercises with athletes, had previous athletic experience, and provided athletes with treatment that met their expectations. The results will contribute to the literature by highlighting the behaviours that sport medicine staff engage in to make female athletes feel that they matter during injury rehabilitation.