Associations Between Sociodemographic Factors and Mental Well-Being in Adolescent Athletes

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University of Alabama Libraries

Mental well-being (MWB), a multi-component construct, embodies subjective human experience in social, emotional, and psychological functioning, and can be utilized as a means of disease prevention and health promotion. Adolescence marks a particularly vulnerable time due to physiological and maturational changes that make one more susceptible to psychosocial and environmental influences on their MWB. Further, sociodemographic characteristics such as age sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status can influence health outcomes including MWB. Sports participation may help moderate poorer levels of MWB in adolescent populations however, research is limited despite the capacity for MWB to impact short and long-term health outcomes including psychopathology. The purpose of this study was to investigate the associations between sociodemographic factors and multiple components of MWB (perceived stress, social support, life satisfaction, sense of coherence) using the theory of salutogenesis as a framework. This study utilized a quantitative, cross-sectional design and collected MWB data using an electronic survey. Non-random block sampling of 219 adolescent athletes (ages 13-17) were recruited. A series of ANCOVA analyses were used to assess differences in MWB by sociodemographic group. Significant differences between males and females were noted for perceived stress (F[1,212]=9.595, p<.002, ɳ2=.043), life satisfaction (F[4,211]=5.309, p<.022, ɳ2=.025), and sense of coherence (F[4,216,]=10.824, p<.001, ɳ2=.048). Race/ethnicity was significantly associated with social support (F[1,205]=5.009, p<.007, ɳ2=.045), and life satisfaction (F[2, 204]=3.880, p<.022, ɳ2=.037). Socioeconomic status was associated with life satisfaction (F[11,204]=2.421, p<.016, ɳ2=.087). Findings from this study contribute to the literature by providing information about the associations between sociodemographic factors and MWB in an adolescent athlete population. Of note, the sample included a large proportion of Black adolescents, a historically excluded demographic in psychological literature. Female, racial/ethnic minority, and lower socioeconomic status adolescents may be at increased risk of poorer MWB therefore, these populations may benefit from MWB promotion efforts including evidence-based and theory-backed interventions. Sports participation may have some moderating effect on MWB outcomes, a positive finding given the feasibility and wide reach organized sports have over an adolescent population. Future MWB research is warranted in adolescent populations and researchers should continue to explore how sociodemographic characteristics shape MWB outcomes.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
adolescents, Athletes, Mental health, mental well-being, sport, Stress