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1.    Introduction

 

1.1  Background

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This study is collaboration between
Cork Institute of Technology student GAA club and the GAA Player Welfare
Officer Gearoid Davitt in Croke Park. The main researcher attended workshops in
Croke Park, Dublin to assess the level of overall wellbeing and health in first
year GAA college athletes in CIT. The students who accepted the invitation to
participate in the study gave their consent to complete questionnaires, be
involved in three discussion talks and use Metrifit to log their health and
wellbeing on a daily basis. There has been no previous study carried out in Ireland
in this area with college athletes. 

 

1.2  Background
of the Study

The World Health Organisation defines wellness as “a state of complete physical, mental and social
well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” (World Health
Organisation, 2004). Wellbeing and health is influenced by a range of
biological (your body), social (family and social life) and psychological (mood,
personality and behaviour) factors (World Health Organisation, 2004). The
Biopsychosocial Model (Appendix A), takes cognisance of the different
components of wellbeing and health (Engel, 1980). The questionnaire used in
this intervention will be adapted from the SLÁN 2007 survey (Barry et al, 2007). The questionnaire
asks 30 questions based around themes such as overtraining, health and well
being and also transition from second level education to third level.

“College
student-athletes have historically been a special population underrepresented
within college counselling centres”
(Valentine et al, 1999). The nature of college student athletes presents
challenges and barriers that can lead to compromised well being (Beauchemin,
2004). College athletes are considered to be a high-risk subgroup for a variety
of health behaviours (Etzel et al., 2006). These include consumption of alcohol,
eating disorders, managing and coping with the stress academic studies and
performance, injuries and overtraining, lack of sleep, and feelings of
exhaustion (Etzel et al., 2006). The questionnaire and discussion talks that
were developed by the GAA Player Welfare Officer are firstly to assess the
impact of a discussion intervention on overall general Health and Wellbeing
among a first year GAA college athletes and secondly to help these students
gain information and get an insight into the different obstacles they could
face during their time spent in college.

 

1.3  Purpose

The purpose of this study is to assess
the effectiveness of a lifestyle intervention on health and well being in first
year male GAA athletes.

 

1.4  Objectives

i)     
To
assess the health, wellbeing and knowledge of support services available to
first year college athletes, using a questionnaire and the Metrifit app.

ii)    
To
assess the effectiveness of an intervention aimed at improving college
athlete’s knowledge of support services.

iii)   
To
compare the impact of discussion talks through a follow up questionnaire after
4-6 weeks of using the Metrifit app.

 

1.5  Methodology

The study will consist of 100
participants; 80 male and 20 female ranging in age from 18-20 years of age. The
study is taking place in the Cork Institute of Technology. The study is
collaboration between CIT student GAA club and the Player Welfare Officer in
Croke Park Dublin. The study is to assess the impact of a discussion
intervention on the overall health and wellbeing of first year GAA athletes.

There will be baseline testing where
the participants that accepted the invitation to take part complete a consent
form and a questionnaire with a range of different themes being asked (eg:
recovery, health, college supports etc.). The athletes will then take part in
three talks over a number of six weeks. These talks will be practical based
where the student-athlete’s will be given a chance to express their own
thoughts and feelings on the topic being discussed.

After the first of six weeks where the
discussion talks were had the participants will monitor their health and
wellbeing on the Metrifit app. They will log their details on the app daily
over a six week period, where the data will be collected and analysed. When the
six weeks of using the Metrifit app is complete, the participants will be given
a follow up questionnaire to complete.

 

 

 

 

1.6  Definition
of Key Terms

 

Health: The
state of being free from illness or injury (World Health Organisation, 2004).

Wellbeing: A state of complete
physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease (World
Health Organisation, 2004).

Biopsychosocial
Model:Takes
cognisance of the different components of wellbeing and health. It’s broken
down 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-being
in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the
normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to
make a contribution to her or his community(World Health Organisation, 2004).

Rest: a bodily state characterized by minimal
functional and metabolic activities (Webber, 1997).

Recovery: a
return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength (MayoClinic,
2016).

Metrifit: It is an athlete monitoring system
that gathers subjective and objective information from both coaches and
athletes to drive behaviour modification and improvement through insights modelled
on descriptive and predictive analytics (Metrifit,
2010).

 

 

2.    Literature
Review

 

2.1
Definition of wellbeing

The World Health Organisation defines wellness as “a state of complete physical, mental and social
well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” (World Health
Organisation, 2004). “Wellbeing includes choices and activities aimed at achieving
physical vitality, mental alacrity, social satisfaction, a sense of
accomplishment, and personal fulfilment.” (Huseyin et al., 2015).

 

 

 

2.2 Factors Influencing Health& Wellness

Wellbeing and health
is influenced by a range of biological, social and psychological factors (World
Health Organisation, 2004). The Biopsychosocial Model (Appendix A), takes
cognisance 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 to
understand how an illness stems from the individuals body and how it functions.
The psychological component looks for potential psychological causes for a
health problem such as emotional turmoil, negative thinking and lack of
self-control. The social aspect investigates how the different social factors
of the human life can influence health such as socioeconomic status, religion,
culture and technology. This model shows the
importance of balancing the three determinants of wellbeing (Engel, 1980).
While there are three main factors that influence your well being, there are
many additional factors that also influence ones well being. These include your
family, community, education, work and club (Engel, 1980). Although these
factors come secondary to the biological, psychological and social components
of the biopsychosocial model, they also play a vital part on the individual the
person that they become (Engel, 1980).

 

2.3 Health of young Irish Adults

The survey used in this
intervention will be adapted from the SLÁN 2007 survey (Barry et al, 2007). This report
examined the mental health and social well-being of Irish adults. It was found
that 75% of the Irish adult population reported a good quality of life and
positive well being (Barry et al, 2004).

Similarly to the SLAN survey, the Department of Health and Children in conjunction
with twenty-one third level colleges across Ireland undertook a lifestyle
survey (CLAN) among undergraduate
full-time students. This took place during the academic year 2002/2003. (Hope
et al, 2009). The aim of this survey was to establish a profile of student’s
habits nationally at third level education. (Hope et al, 2009).

Over half of the students that took
part 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 health
were from their GP, family and the media (Hope et al, 2009). When compared to
the 18-34 age group in the national lifestyle survey (SLÁN), the student
population had a less optimistic view of their general health (CLAN 54% vs SLÁN
65%) (Hope et al, 2009). In the study carried out it reported that one in five
of all students were on a diet, with females being twice as likely to be on a
special diet (Hope et al., 2009). Weight problems were the main reason that 15%
of females were on special diets. Salads and cooked vegetables were more
popular among third year students. On a daily basis sweets (39%) and fizzy
drinks (27%) were very popular amongst first year students (Hope et al., 2009).

The “Healthy Ireland” survey carried
out in 2016 by the Department of Health and Ipsos MRBI, interviewed
participants in their homes. The survey measured the health and wellness of a
sample of the Irish population where 609 young Irish adults took part from the
age of 15-24; 302 male and 307 female. The results from the survey showed that
20% of the 609 young Irish adults smoke. Women aged 25 and under are more
likely to smoke than men of the same age (Dept Health 2016). In the same group
aged 15-24, 66% of the participants binge drink, this figure being so high due
to the group being college students (Ipsos MRBI 2016). When asked about healthy
eating, 52% (21% male and 31% female) said they eat five or more portions of
fruit and vegetables daily. When it comes to physical activity, 56% of men
achieve their physical activity guidelines daily in comparison to 34% of
females. The wellbeing and mental health of females at 17% is higher than males
with reasons being self-image, exclusion from groups and nervousness in a large
group (Dept. Health, 2016).

In a more out dated study, a sample of
1,401 young Irish adults completed an interview based questionnaire based on
their beliefs about health priorities and attitudes about eating (Kearney et
al., 1998).  Fifty-seven percent of the
group believed that eating a healthy diet was a priority to their health and
wellness. The group were shown five statements on attitudes about eating, where
39% selected “I don’t worry too much as
long as I eat enough healthy things such as fruit and vegetables” and 30% of
them selected “I eat and drink the things I enjoy and don’t worry about it” (Kearney
et al., 1998). Results also showed that in males were less likely to select “eat a healthy diet” than females. The
participants in the group with low education levels were significantly the most
likely to be least concerned about nutrition (Kearney et al., 1998). Overall in
the 1,401 participants in this study it suggests that a primary target group
for nutrition education are young males with minimal education. In comparison
to the “Healthy Ireland” survey, figures have risen in the healthy eating
bracket and are more aware of what they eat.

Cleary at al., 2007 examined the
levels of psychological health and well-being in a group of young people living
in Dublin. The participants (50 males and 47 females) were assessed for
psychological status, substance misuse, contact with the law and self esteem.
Results showed that approximately one fifth of the participants were depressed
or suffered anxiety (Cleary et al., 2007). Over half of the group had used
non-prescription drugs and more than half of those interviewed were categorised
as misusing alcohol and/or drugs where participants greatly underestimated
their level of alcohol use (Cleary et al., 2007). Comparing to the more dated
surveys, 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 of
smokers and the rise of healthy eating can be positives from the studies. 

 

2.4
Wellbeing of College Athletes

A study carried out in Ohio University
it reported that college student athletes are generally healthier than the
general student population (Weber et al, 2005). The objective of the study
carried out by Webber et al, was to determine the diet quality of 138
collegiate athletes. The athletes completed a survey questionnaire.  Data was collected and body fat was assessed using
a free standing sta-diometer. Diet was assessed using the
2005 Food Frequency questionnaire and their scores were calculated by the
Healthy Eating Index (Webber et al, 2005). Results show that there were
adequate intakes of calcium, iron, and vitamin C and an inadequate intake in
fibre, fruits and vegetables among the students. These findings demonstrate the
need for and potential benefit of nutrition education for collegiate athletes”
(Weber et al, 2005).

“College
student-athletes have historically been a special population underrepresented
within college counselling centres”
(Valentine et al, 1999). The nature of college student athletes presents
challenges and barriers that can lead to compromised well being (Beauchemin,
2004). Research carried out by Watson and Kissinger indicates that 10-15% of
athletes have needs significant enough to warrant counselling services (Watson,
2007).

In a study carried out by Reinboth and
Duda they examined the relationship of the perceived motivational climate and
perceptions of ability to indices of psychological and physical well-being on
soccer players in the age bracket of 16-25. The participants of the study
carried out a questionnaire based on their soccer ability, self esteem and
physical exhaustion.  Results showed that
participants had low self esteem in what is perceived to be an ego-involving
sport. The athletes reported that they were also physically and mentally
exhausted due to the surroundings/atmosphere and pressures they were involved
in (Reinboth and Duda 2002). The results suggest that participation in sport
can be healthy but it can be potentially damaging to athletes’ welfare (Reinboth
2002).

College athletes are considered to be
a high-risk subgroup for a variety of health behaviours (Etzel et al., 2006).
These include consumption of alcohol, eating disorders, managing and coping
with the stress academic studies and performance, injuries and overtraining,
lack of sleep, and feelings of exhaustion (Etzel et al., 2006). Many of these
behaviours link directly with depression (Wells et al., 2001). Armstrong and
Oomen-Early 2009, compared college athletes to non-athletes to see whether
there were significant differences in self-esteem, social connectedness and
depression. They also wanted to see if an interaction among the behaviours of
athlete’s status, gender, levels of weekly exercise and sleep were associated
with depression. The participants for this study were 227 US full-time
undergraduate students. The tools used to measure these behaviours were; the
Epidemiologic studies depression scale, the Rosenberg self-esteem scale and the
Social Connectedness scale-revised. Results showed that athletes had higher
levels of self-esteem, social connectedness, and lower levels of depression in
comparison to the non-athletes (Armstrong and Oomen-Early 2009).

The most common stressor that student
athletes experience is the loss of the “star player” that they had previously
experienced before making the transition into another college. Another common
stressor is the potential of them being benched (Wilson et al, 2005). Being
able to maintain social and leisure activities, and interpersonal challenges
(Parcover, et al., 2009) all become stressors on college athletes. “College athletes who experience high levels
of stress are more likely to practice bad health habits” (Wilson et al,
2005). This is a concern for all college students and athletes but especially
those that have a very active lifestyle as nutrition and wellness will impact
their body and mind.

 

3.    Purpose
and Objectives

 

3.1  Purpose

The purpose of this study is to assess
the effectiveness of a lifestyle intervention on health and well being in first
year male GAA athletes.

 

3.2  Objectives

 

i)     
To
assess the health, wellbeing and knowledge of support services available to
first year college athletes, using a questionnaire and the Metrifit app.

ii)    
To
assess the effectiveness of an intervention aimed at improving college
athlete’s knowledge of support services.

iii)   
To
compare the impact of discussion talks through a follow up questionnaire after
4-6 weeks of using the Metrifit app.

 

 

4.   
Methodology

 

4.1 Overview

The GAA Player Welfare Officer in
Croke Park in conjunction with CIT student GAA club have developed a series of
workshops to increase the awareness relating to their health and wellbeing of
first year GAA athletes. This project will use a questionnaire to gain
information on the athlete’s health and wellbeing. There will be baseline
testing where the participants will fill out a questionnaire on the general
overall health and wellbeing of themselves. This questionnaire was adapted from
the SLÁN 2007 survey and the CLAN survey, both implemented by the Department of
Health and Children.  After completing
the questionnaire the participants will attend three discussion talks based on;
overtraining and overload, health and wellbeing and the transition from
secondary level education to third level education. Their wellbeing and health
will be monitored using the Metrifit app, where the participants will log their
data daily for a 4-6 week period. After the six weeks, a follow up
questionnaire will be handed out to the participants to complete. The results
will then be analysed using the SPSS statistical package.  

 

4.2 Participants

All first year college GAA athletes
were invited to take part in the study. The study sample group consists of 100
participants; 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 with
the student GAA club. Participants taking part will be asked to complete a
questionnaire (Appendix B) and will then take part in one (health and
wellbeing) (Appendix C) of three discussion talks. The remaining two discussion
talks will take place within five weeks of the first one. At the end of the
study the participants will be asked to complete a follow up questionnaire and
that will be used to compare and contrast data from day 1 of the study and the
data from the Metrifit app.  

 

 

4.3
Questionnaire

The questionnaire used in this
intervention was adapted from the SLÁN 2007 survey and the CLAN survey, both
implemented by the Department of Health and Children. The questionnaire asks a
series of 30 questions on the topics of over training, health and wellbeing and
the transitions into third level education. All participants completed the
questionnaire before the first of three discussion talks. It takes 10 minutes
to complete and the participants get to take home an information sheet also. To
log 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 a
follow up questionnaire to complete. All data collected will be stored in a
password protected PC and questionnaires in a filing cabinet in the supervisors
office.

 

4.4 Intervention
Design

The participants were given a series
of three talks that were developed by the GAA Welfare Officer in Croke Park.
The intervention took place in the Melbourne building on the 19th of
October by fourth year student Anthony Casey and lasted approximately 25 minutes.
The participants completed their questionnaire and the first of the three
discussion talks. The discussion talks  included themes such as, rest, recovery,
healthy eating, training overload, gambling etc. In addition to the discussion
talks, participants took home a leaflet on the topics discussed to get a better
understanding of the topics. The participants will also log their information
(health, wellbeing, training load) on the Metrifit app on a daily basis for six
weeks. Training for this intervention took place in Croke Park on 22nd of
September 2017, where the researcher undertook a series of workshops given by
the Player Welfare Officer for the GAA Gearoid Davitt and Stacey Cahill who is
a National Health & Wellbeing
Coordinator.

 

4.5 Ethics

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

 

4.6 Data Collection

The data will be collected through
questionnaires that the first year athletes will have carried out. It is also
hoped to use the Metrifit app to monitor their wellbeing and training load. The
data collected will be kept confidential and will be stored in a password
protected PC. All questionnaires will be stored in a filing cabinet and will be
kept in the supervisor’s office.

 

4.7 Data Analysis:

All data collected will be analysed
using the SPSS statistical package. SPSS is a comprehensive system for
analysing data. When the data is inputted into the software it will “generate tabulated reports, charts, and
plots of distributions and trends, descriptive statistics, and complex
statistical analysis” (Preacher et al., 2004).Descriptive data and
frequencies will be used to summarise the data at baseline. Tests of
significance will be used to assess changes in knowledge from baseline to
follow up testing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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