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Prevalence of and Risk Factors Associated With Symptoms of Depression in Competitive Collegiate Student Athletes

Yang, Jingzhen PhD, MPH*†; Peek-Asa, Corinne PhD, MPH*‡; Corlette, Jill D MS, ATC§; Cheng, Gang MS; Foster, Danny T PhD, ATC; Albright, John MD**

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2007 - Volume 17 - Issue 6 - p 481-487
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31815aed6b
Original Research
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Objective: To describe the prevalence of symptoms of depression among competitive collegiate student athletes and examine the factors associated with symptoms of depression among this population.

Design: A baseline survey of a prospective cohort study.

Setting: The survey was administered at the preseason team meetings.

Participants: The sample included 257 collegiate student athletes (167 males and 90 females) who participated in Division I National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)-sponsored sports during the 2005-2006 academic year.

Main Outcome Measurements: Symptoms of depression were measured by the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CESD). Anxiety was measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). The Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) was used to assess the factors associated with symptoms of depression.

Results: Twenty-one percent of participants reported experiencing symptoms of depression. Athletes who were female, freshmen, or with self-reported pain were associated with significantly increased odds of experiencing symptoms of depression after adjusting for sports and other covariates. In particular, female athletes had 1.32 greater odds (95% CI, 1.01 to 1.73) of experiencing symptoms of depression compared to male student athletes. Freshmen had 3.27 greater odds (95% CI, 1.63 to 6.59) of experiencing symptoms of depression than their more senior counterparts. Student athletes who reported symptoms of depression were associated with higher scores of State-Anxiety and Trait-Anxiety, respectively (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Our findings provide empirical data for the future study on mental health among collegiate athletes. Further studies on why female and freshmen athletes are at increased risk of experiencing symptoms of depression are also warranted.

From the *University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center, Iowa City, Iowa; †Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa; ‡Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa; §National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, Indiana; ¶Department of Biostatistics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa; ∥Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa; and **Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Roy J. & Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

Submitted for publication March 29, 2007; accepted August 29, 2007.

This research was supported by the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center, funded by grant #R49-CCD721682-03 of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. The authors state that they have no financial interest in the products mentioned within this article.

Reprints: Jingzhen Yang, PhD, MPH, Department of Community & Behavioral Health College of Public Health, The University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Drive, E236 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242 (e-mail: jingzhen-yang@uiowa.edu).

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.