STAY HEALTHY: AN AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF SPORT ILLNESS PREVENTION PROJECT

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Abstract

Background

Illnesses affect the ability of an athlete to perform. Few studies investigate risk factors in athletes across disciplines.

Objective

To investigate risk factors for illness in athletes preparing for the Olympic Games.

Design

Cross-sectional.

Setting

Australian athletes eligible for selection for the Olympic Games.

Participants

317 athletes from 15 sports completed at least one component of the study (59% of athletes). To be eligible, athlete had to be available for selection for the Olympics.

Assessment of Risk Factors

Phase 1 (P1) was in the summer period of December 2015-January 2016 and Phase 2 (P2) involved the period in the autumn (late April-June 2016). Questionnaires were administered in an electronic system. Depression, Anxiety and Stress Questionnaire (DASS-21), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Dispositional Resilience Scale (DRS), Recovery-Stress Questionnaire (REST-Q-52 item), Low Energy in Females Questionnaire (LEAF-Q), a modified Personal and Household Hygiene questionnaire, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and custom-made questionnaires on probiotic usage and travel were administered.

Main Outcome Measurements

A monthly sports incapacity defintion was used in P1. A symptom checklist, including sports incapacity, was utilized in P2 investigating Upper Respiratory Tract Symptoms (URTS), bodily aches, gastrointestinal, head, eye, fatigue or chest symptoms.

Results

Female athletes were at higher odds of respiratory illness (OR=2.8, 95% CI 1.3 to 6.0). The prevalence of a high LEAF-Q score (≥8) was 49 and 53% and was associated with illness (P1: Any illness OR 7.4, 95% CI 0.8–352; P2: URTS OR 3.8, 95% CI 1.3–11.6). High DASS-21 scores were associated with increased reports of illness in P1 (Depression, OR=8.4 95% CI 1.1–59). High PSQI scores increased the reports of illness (P2: URTS: PSQI≥5, OR=2.8 95% CI 1.2–6.9).

Conclusions

The results highlight that female athletes, particularly when exhibiting low energy availability, are at higher risk. Poor mental health and sleep quality were associated with illness.

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