While recent research has generated a great deal of useful information about the nature of the stressors facing injured athletes and the coping strategies used during injury rehabilitation, few studies have examined the actual experiences of injured student athletes. This study sought to begin to address this gap in the literature by exploring the stress and coping experiences of injured student athletes over the course of their rehabilitation. Nine university student athletes with athletic injuries were recruited to complete fourteen consecutive weekly journal entries describing their stressors and coping strategies related to the injury rehabilitation process and other areas of life. Five participants (three female and two male) provided full journal datasets and then completed semi-structured interviews after returning to sport. Grounded theory methodology was utilized to analyze the journal and interview data. Themes arose related to the student athlete lifestyle, stressors, psychological responses to injury, coping strategies and coping effects, coping processes and perceived benefits. The results are discussed within the context of models of sport injury rehabilitation and previous research on stress and coping with athletic injury. The study identified several stressors and coping strategies specific to injured student athletes. These include balancing intensive time demands, which became further strained with the addition of rehabilitation, the effect of the injury on employment, and related coping strategies. Strengths and limitations of the study are addressed, and recommendations for future research are made with respect to this specific population and, more generally, research on stress and coping with athletic injury. Recommendations regarding strategies to support injured student athletes are also offered.
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Thesis advisor: Cox, David
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