An investigation of eating pathology, emotion regulation, and stress in university student athletes

Duggan, Chris (2019) An investigation of eating pathology, emotion regulation, and stress in university student athletes. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Research investigating eating pathology in university student athletes tends to suggest that student athletes exhibit lower risk for eating pathology and lower levels of body dissatisfaction than their non-athlete counterparts. Given that body dissatisfaction has been shown to predict eating pathology, it is possible that student athletes exhibit lower eating pathology risk as a result of their relatively lower levels of body dissatisfaction. Given that student athletes engage in regular and intense physical activity, it is likely that their bodies more closely match the cultural ideal (lean), which would explain the relatively low levels of body dissatisfaction observed in previous studies. There is evidence to suggest that regular engagement in physical activity is an effective emotion regulation strategy. Emotion regulation involves the awareness and acceptance of emotions, the ability to behave in accordance with desired goals when experiencing negative emotions, and the ability to use situationally appropriate emotion regulation strategies. Difficulties in emotion regulation arise when one of these processes is disrupted and difficulties in emotion regulation have been associated with higher risk for eating pathology. The current research investigated the relationships between athletic status, eating pathology, and difficulties in emotion regulation in a sample of 123 male and female student non-athletes and 85 male and female student athletes. It was hypothesized that the student athletes would report lower levels of eating pathology risk and higher levels of body satisfaction than the student non-athletes. Additionally, it was predicted that student athletes would report fewer difficulties in emotion regulation than the student non-athletes and that difficulties in emotion regulation would mediate the relationship between athletic status and eating pathology. In general, the results of the current study were consistent with the predictions, in that the student athletes reported significantly lower likelihood of scoring within the range of clinical concern on an eating pathology assessment. Additionally, the student athletes reported significantly higher scores on an index of body satisfaction and lower scores on an index of difficulties in emotion regulation, but the difference merely trended towards significance for difficulties in emotion regulation. Finally, the current study demonstrated that the relationship between scores on an eating pathology assessment and athletic status were mediated by difficulties in emotion regulation in a sample of male and female student athletes and student non-athletes. This suggests that student athletes reported less eating pathology as a result of fewer difficulties in emotion regulation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 13677
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 139-175).
Keywords: Athlete, Eating Pathology, Emotion Regulation, Student, Eating Disorder
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: May 2019
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: College athletes--Mental health; Eating disorders--Psychological aspects

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