This study explored the nature and extent of Athlete Support Personnel's (ASP's) attitudes and beliefs toward athletes with symptoms of anorexia nervosa (AN) compared with those with symptoms of depression.Design:
A cross-sectional study with a survey instrument.Setting:
Sport and Exercise Science Professional Bodies and Associations in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and mainland United Kingdom.Participants:
One hundred fifty-two ASP.Main Outcome Measures:
Participants read 2 vignettes describing a fictional female athlete with symptoms of AN or depression after which they completed an on-line survey examining attitudes toward such athletes.Results:
Significant differences in patterns of responses were found between the 2 mental health conditions. The athlete with AN was viewed as significantly more difficult to communicate with F(1,148) = 18.17, P = 0.000, η2 = 0.11, more likely to be using her disorder to gain attention F(1,148) = 21.69, P = 0.000, η2 = 0.13, personally responsible for her condition F(1,148) = 10.10, P = 0.00, η2 = 0.06, and less likely to recover F(1,148) = 23.03, P = 0.000, η2 = 0.14 than the athlete with depression. Male service providers were more likely to believe that the athletes depicted were attention seeking F(1,148) = 10.69, P = 0.001, η2 = 0.07 and only had themselves to blame for their mental health condition F(1,148) = 12.97, P = 0.000, η2 = 0.08.Conclusions:
Athlete support personnel report stigmatizing attitudes toward athletes with eating disorders such as AN. Male service providers hold greater negative attitudes toward athletes with mental health conditions.