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1.    Introduction 1.1  BackgroundThis study is collaboration betweenCork Institute of Technology student GAA club and the GAA Player WelfareOfficer Gearoid Davitt in Croke Park. The main researcher attended workshops inCroke Park, Dublin to assess the level of overall wellbeing and health in firstyear GAA college athletes in CIT. The students who accepted the invitation toparticipate in the study gave their consent to complete questionnaires, beinvolved in three discussion talks and use Metrifit to log their health andwellbeing on a daily basis.

There has been no previous study carried out in Irelandin this area with college athletes.   1.2  Backgroundof the StudyThe World Health Organisation defines wellness as “a state of complete physical, mental and socialwell-being and not merely the absence of disease.” (World HealthOrganisation, 2004). Wellbeing and health is influenced by a range ofbiological (your body), social (family and social life) and psychological (mood,personality and behaviour) factors (World Health Organisation, 2004).

TheBiopsychosocial Model (Appendix A), takes cognisance of the differentcomponents of wellbeing and health (Engel, 1980). The questionnaire used inthis intervention will be adapted from the SLÁN 2007 survey (Barry et al, 2007). The questionnaireasks 30 questions based around themes such as overtraining, health and wellbeing and also transition from second level education to third level.”Collegestudent-athletes have historically been a special population underrepresentedwithin college counselling centres”(Valentine et al, 1999).

The nature of college student athletes presentschallenges and barriers that can lead to compromised well being (Beauchemin,2004). College athletes are considered to be a high-risk subgroup for a varietyof health behaviours (Etzel et al., 2006).

These include consumption of alcohol,eating disorders, managing and coping with the stress academic studies andperformance, injuries and overtraining, lack of sleep, and feelings ofexhaustion (Etzel et al., 2006). The questionnaire and discussion talks thatwere developed by the GAA Player Welfare Officer are firstly to assess theimpact of a discussion intervention on overall general Health and Wellbeingamong a first year GAA college athletes and secondly to help these studentsgain information and get an insight into the different obstacles they couldface during their time spent in college. 1.3  PurposeThe purpose of this study is to assessthe effectiveness of a lifestyle intervention on health and well being in firstyear male GAA athletes. 1.

4  Objectivesi)     Toassess the health, wellbeing and knowledge of support services available tofirst year college athletes, using a questionnaire and the Metrifit app.ii)    Toassess the effectiveness of an intervention aimed at improving collegeathlete’s knowledge of support services.iii)   Tocompare the impact of discussion talks through a follow up questionnaire after4-6 weeks of using the Metrifit app. 1.5  MethodologyThe study will consist of 100participants; 80 male and 20 female ranging in age from 18-20 years of age. Thestudy is taking place in the Cork Institute of Technology. The study iscollaboration between CIT student GAA club and the Player Welfare Officer inCroke Park Dublin. The study is to assess the impact of a discussionintervention on the overall health and wellbeing of first year GAA athletes.

There will be baseline testing wherethe participants that accepted the invitation to take part complete a consentform and a questionnaire with a range of different themes being asked (eg:recovery, health, college supports etc.). The athletes will then take part inthree talks over a number of six weeks. These talks will be practical basedwhere the student-athlete’s will be given a chance to express their ownthoughts and feelings on the topic being discussed.After the first of six weeks where thediscussion talks were had the participants will monitor their health andwellbeing on the Metrifit app.

They will log their details on the app dailyover a six week period, where the data will be collected and analysed. When thesix weeks of using the Metrifit app is complete, the participants will be givena follow up questionnaire to complete.    1.6  Definitionof Key Terms  Health: Thestate of being free from illness or injury (World Health Organisation, 2004).Wellbeing: A state of completephysical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease (WorldHealth Organisation, 2004).

BiopsychosocialModel:Takescognisance of the different components of wellbeing and health. It’s brokendown into three components; Biological (your body), Psychological (your mood,emotional state, personality, behaviour) and Social (family, social life)(Engel, 1980).Mental Health: A  state of well-beingin which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with thenormal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able tomake a contribution to her or his community(World Health Organisation, 2004).Rest: a bodily state characterized by minimalfunctional and metabolic activities (Webber, 1997).

Recovery: areturn to a normal state of health, mind, or strength (MayoClinic,2016).Metrifit: It is an athlete monitoring systemthat gathers subjective and objective information from both coaches andathletes to drive behaviour modification and improvement through insights modelledon descriptive and predictive analytics (Metrifit,2010).   2.    LiteratureReview 2.1Definition of wellbeingThe World Health Organisation defines wellness as “a state of complete physical, mental and socialwell-being and not merely the absence of disease.” (World HealthOrganisation, 2004). “Wellbeing includes choices and activities aimed at achievingphysical vitality, mental alacrity, social satisfaction, a sense ofaccomplishment, and personal fulfilment.

” (Huseyin et al., 2015).    2.2 Factors Influencing Health& WellnessWellbeing and healthis influenced by a range of biological, social and psychological factors (WorldHealth Organisation, 2004). The Biopsychosocial Model (Appendix A), takescognisance of the different components of well being and health (Engel, 1980).This model includes the following aspects of wellbeing; Biological (your body),Psychological (your mood, emotional state, personality, behaviour) and Social (our family, social, work life, cultural,socioeconomic factors) (Engel, 1980). Its biological component seeks tounderstand how an illness stems from the individuals body and how it functions.

The psychological component looks for potential psychological causes for ahealth problem such as emotional turmoil, negative thinking and lack ofself-control. The social aspect investigates how the different social factorsof the human life can influence health such as socioeconomic status, religion,culture and technology. This model shows theimportance of balancing the three determinants of wellbeing (Engel, 1980).While there are three main factors that influence your well being, there aremany additional factors that also influence ones well being. These include yourfamily, community, education, work and club (Engel, 1980). Although thesefactors come secondary to the biological, psychological and social componentsof the biopsychosocial model, they also play a vital part on the individual theperson that they become (Engel, 1980).  2.3 Health of young Irish AdultsThe survey used in thisintervention will be adapted from the SLÁN 2007 survey (Barry et al, 2007).

This reportexamined the mental health and social well-being of Irish adults. It was foundthat 75% of the Irish adult population reported a good quality of life andpositive well being (Barry et al, 2004). Similarly to the SLAN survey, the Department of Health and Children in conjunctionwith twenty-one third level colleges across Ireland undertook a lifestylesurvey (CLAN) among undergraduatefull-time students. This took place during the academic year 2002/2003. (Hopeet al, 2009). The aim of this survey was to establish a profile of student’shabits nationally at third level education.

(Hope et al, 2009). Over half of the students that tookpart in this survey categorised their general health as very good or excellent.Female students (87%) rated their quality of life higher than male students(65%), while males (76%) rated their general health better (Hope et al, 2009).The three main sources where students accessed information about their healthwere from their GP, family and the media (Hope et al, 2009). When compared tothe 18-34 age group in the national lifestyle survey (SLÁN), the studentpopulation had a less optimistic view of their general health (CLAN 54% vs SLÁN65%) (Hope et al, 2009). In the study carried out it reported that one in fiveof all students were on a diet, with females being twice as likely to be on aspecial diet (Hope et al., 2009).

Weight problems were the main reason that 15%of females were on special diets. Salads and cooked vegetables were morepopular among third year students. On a daily basis sweets (39%) and fizzydrinks (27%) were very popular amongst first year students (Hope et al., 2009).The “Healthy Ireland” survey carriedout in 2016 by the Department of Health and Ipsos MRBI, interviewedparticipants in their homes.

The survey measured the health and wellness of asample of the Irish population where 609 young Irish adults took part from theage of 15-24; 302 male and 307 female. The results from the survey showed that20% of the 609 young Irish adults smoke. Women aged 25 and under are morelikely to smoke than men of the same age (Dept Health 2016). In the same groupaged 15-24, 66% of the participants binge drink, this figure being so high dueto the group being college students (Ipsos MRBI 2016). When asked about healthyeating, 52% (21% male and 31% female) said they eat five or more portions offruit and vegetables daily.

When it comes to physical activity, 56% of menachieve their physical activity guidelines daily in comparison to 34% offemales. The wellbeing and mental health of females at 17% is higher than maleswith reasons being self-image, exclusion from groups and nervousness in a largegroup (Dept. Health, 2016).In a more out dated study, a sample of1,401 young Irish adults completed an interview based questionnaire based ontheir beliefs about health priorities and attitudes about eating (Kearney etal.

, 1998).  Fifty-seven percent of thegroup believed that eating a healthy diet was a priority to their health andwellness. The group were shown five statements on attitudes about eating, where39% selected “I don’t worry too much aslong as I eat enough healthy things such as fruit and vegetables” and 30% ofthem selected “I eat and drink the things I enjoy and don’t worry about it” (Kearneyet al., 1998). Results also showed that in males were less likely to select “eat a healthy diet” than females. Theparticipants in the group with low education levels were significantly the mostlikely to be least concerned about nutrition (Kearney et al., 1998).

Overall inthe 1,401 participants in this study it suggests that a primary target groupfor nutrition education are young males with minimal education. In comparisonto the “Healthy Ireland” survey, figures have risen in the healthy eatingbracket and are more aware of what they eat.Cleary at al., 2007 examined thelevels of psychological health and well-being in a group of young people livingin Dublin. The participants (50 males and 47 females) were assessed forpsychological status, substance misuse, contact with the law and self esteem.Results showed that approximately one fifth of the participants were depressedor suffered anxiety (Cleary et al.

, 2007). Over half of the group had usednon-prescription drugs and more than half of those interviewed were categorisedas misusing alcohol and/or drugs where participants greatly underestimatedtheir level of alcohol use (Cleary et al., 2007). Comparing to the more datedsurveys, the general health and well being of young Irish adults has improved.

The consumption of alcohol is still at a high figure but the reduced number ofsmokers and the rise of healthy eating can be positives from the studies.   2.4Wellbeing of College AthletesA study carried out in Ohio Universityit reported that college student athletes are generally healthier than thegeneral student population (Weber et al, 2005). The objective of the studycarried out by Webber et al, was to determine the diet quality of 138collegiate athletes. The athletes completed a survey questionnaire.

  Data was collected and body fat was assessed usinga free standing sta-diometer. Diet was assessed using the2005 Food Frequency questionnaire and their scores were calculated by theHealthy Eating Index (Webber et al, 2005). Results show that there wereadequate intakes of calcium, iron, and vitamin C and an inadequate intake infibre, fruits and vegetables among the students. These findings demonstrate theneed for and potential benefit of nutrition education for collegiate athletes”(Weber et al, 2005).

“Collegestudent-athletes have historically been a special population underrepresentedwithin college counselling centres”(Valentine et al, 1999). The nature of college student athletes presentschallenges and barriers that can lead to compromised well being (Beauchemin,2004). Research carried out by Watson and Kissinger indicates that 10-15% ofathletes have needs significant enough to warrant counselling services (Watson,2007).In a study carried out by Reinboth andDuda they examined the relationship of the perceived motivational climate andperceptions of ability to indices of psychological and physical well-being onsoccer players in the age bracket of 16-25. The participants of the studycarried out a questionnaire based on their soccer ability, self esteem andphysical exhaustion.  Results showed thatparticipants had low self esteem in what is perceived to be an ego-involvingsport. The athletes reported that they were also physically and mentallyexhausted due to the surroundings/atmosphere and pressures they were involvedin (Reinboth and Duda 2002).

The results suggest that participation in sportcan be healthy but it can be potentially damaging to athletes’ welfare (Reinboth2002).College athletes are considered to bea high-risk subgroup for a variety of health behaviours (Etzel et al., 2006).

These include consumption of alcohol, eating disorders, managing and copingwith the stress academic studies and performance, injuries and overtraining,lack of sleep, and feelings of exhaustion (Etzel et al., 2006). Many of thesebehaviours link directly with depression (Wells et al., 2001). Armstrong andOomen-Early 2009, compared college athletes to non-athletes to see whetherthere were significant differences in self-esteem, social connectedness anddepression. They also wanted to see if an interaction among the behaviours ofathlete’s status, gender, levels of weekly exercise and sleep were associatedwith depression. The participants for this study were 227 US full-timeundergraduate students.

The tools used to measure these behaviours were; theEpidemiologic studies depression scale, the Rosenberg self-esteem scale and theSocial Connectedness scale-revised. Results showed that athletes had higherlevels of self-esteem, social connectedness, and lower levels of depression incomparison to the non-athletes (Armstrong and Oomen-Early 2009). The most common stressor that studentathletes experience is the loss of the “star player” that they had previouslyexperienced before making the transition into another college. Another commonstressor is the potential of them being benched (Wilson et al, 2005). Beingable to maintain social and leisure activities, and interpersonal challenges(Parcover, et al., 2009) all become stressors on college athletes. “College athletes who experience high levelsof stress are more likely to practice bad health habits” (Wilson et al,2005).

This is a concern for all college students and athletes but especiallythose that have a very active lifestyle as nutrition and wellness will impacttheir body and mind.  3.    Purposeand Objectives 3.1  PurposeThe purpose of this study is to assessthe effectiveness of a lifestyle intervention on health and well being in firstyear male GAA athletes. 3.2  Objectives i)     Toassess the health, wellbeing and knowledge of support services available tofirst year college athletes, using a questionnaire and the Metrifit app.

ii)    Toassess the effectiveness of an intervention aimed at improving collegeathlete’s knowledge of support services.iii)   Tocompare the impact of discussion talks through a follow up questionnaire after4-6 weeks of using the Metrifit app.  4.

   Methodology 4.1 OverviewThe GAA Player Welfare Officer inCroke Park in conjunction with CIT student GAA club have developed a series ofworkshops to increase the awareness relating to their health and wellbeing offirst year GAA athletes. This project will use a questionnaire to gaininformation on the athlete’s health and wellbeing. There will be baselinetesting where the participants will fill out a questionnaire on the generaloverall health and wellbeing of themselves. This questionnaire was adapted fromthe SLÁN 2007 survey and the CLAN survey, both implemented by the Department ofHealth and Children.  After completingthe questionnaire the participants will attend three discussion talks based on;overtraining and overload, health and wellbeing and the transition fromsecondary level education to third level education. Their wellbeing and healthwill be monitored using the Metrifit app, where the participants will log theirdata daily for a 4-6 week period. After the six weeks, a follow upquestionnaire will be handed out to the participants to complete.

The resultswill then be analysed using the SPSS statistical package.   4.2 ParticipantsAll first year college GAA athleteswere invited to take part in the study. The study sample group consists of 100participants; 80 male and 20 female.

The age ranges from 18-20 years of age.The study is to take place in Cork Institute of Technology in conjunction withthe student GAA club. Participants taking part will be asked to complete aquestionnaire (Appendix B) and will then take part in one (health andwellbeing) (Appendix C) of three discussion talks. The remaining two discussiontalks will take place within five weeks of the first one. At the end of thestudy the participants will be asked to complete a follow up questionnaire andthat will be used to compare and contrast data from day 1 of the study and thedata from the Metrifit app.    4.3QuestionnaireThe questionnaire used in thisintervention was adapted from the SLÁN 2007 survey and the CLAN survey, bothimplemented by the Department of Health and Children.

The questionnaire asks aseries of 30 questions on the topics of over training, health and wellbeing andthe transitions into third level education. All participants completed thequestionnaire before the first of three discussion talks. It takes 10 minutesto complete and the participants get to take home an information sheet also. Tolog their mood and eating habits the intervention will use the Metrifit app.After the 4-6 week period of using this app the participants will be given afollow up questionnaire to complete. All data collected will be stored in apassword protected PC and questionnaires in a filing cabinet in the supervisorsoffice. 4.

4 InterventionDesignThe participants were given a seriesof three talks that were developed by the GAA Welfare Officer in Croke Park.The intervention took place in the Melbourne building on the 19th ofOctober by fourth year student Anthony Casey and lasted approximately 25 minutes.The participants completed their questionnaire and the first of the threediscussion talks.

The discussion talks  included themes such as, rest, recovery,healthy eating, training overload, gambling etc. In addition to the discussiontalks, participants took home a leaflet on the topics discussed to get a betterunderstanding of the topics. The participants will also log their information(health, wellbeing, training load) on the Metrifit app on a daily basis for sixweeks. Training for this intervention took place in Croke Park on 22nd ofSeptember 2017, where the researcher undertook a series of workshops given bythe Player Welfare Officer for the GAA Gearoid Davitt and Stacey Cahill who isa National Health & WellbeingCoordinator. 4.

5 EthicsThe study will include discussiontalks and interaction with first year college GAA students. An informationsheet and consent form was given to each participant allowing theirparticipation in this study and also to allow for their data to be used in thestudy that is being carried out. The information sheet and consent formwas  filled out before the participantscompleted the questionnaire. This research project has been approved by theDepartment of Sport, Leisure and Childhood Studies Research Ethics Committee.To protect participant anonymity no names will be printed nor will the name ofthe leisure facility be mentioned, in confidentiality.

 4.6 Data CollectionThe data will be collected throughquestionnaires that the first year athletes will have carried out. It is alsohoped to use the Metrifit app to monitor their wellbeing and training load. Thedata collected will be kept confidential and will be stored in a passwordprotected PC.

All questionnaires will be stored in a filing cabinet and will bekept in the supervisor’s office.  4.7 Data Analysis:All data collected will be analysedusing the SPSS statistical package. SPSS is a comprehensive system foranalysing data.

When the data is inputted into the software it will “generate tabulated reports, charts, andplots of distributions and trends, descriptive statistics, and complexstatistical analysis” (Preacher et al., 2004).Descriptive data andfrequencies will be used to summarise the data at baseline. Tests ofsignificance will be used to assess changes in knowledge from baseline tofollow up testing.                 

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