“A meta-analysis on the relationship between social support and psychological and behavioral outcomes during sport injury rehabilitation” (by Simon Martin, Andreas Ivarsson, Urban Johnson, Ulrika Tranaeus, Andreas Stenling & Magnus Lindwall)

About the speaker: Simon Martin is a Master student in sport psychology at Halmstad University and at the Sport sciences and P-E department of the École Normale Supérieure de Rennes, France. His current projects focus on psychological aspects of chronic sport injuries and on psychological factors of successful rehabilitation.

Text: Simon Martin, a summary of the symposium: “Psychological perspectives on sport injuries”  held at the Nordic sport science conference. November 22/23 2017, Halmstad.

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Background: Social support is a multidimensional construct, defined as “an exchange of resources between two individuals, to enhance the well-being of the recipient”1. It has been shown to be related to positive health outcomes, especially during stressful circumstances, thanks to its buffering effect on the brain. In the same time, sport injury remains precisely one of the most common stressful event in an athletes’ career, associated with a range of cognitive, emotional and behavioral responses.

Goal: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis about social support’s potential enhancing effect on these responses, as well as on final recovery outcomes.

Highlights: Social support influenced sport injury rehabilitation through different pathways:

  • By reducing potentially distressing emotional responses (e.g. anger)
  • By increasing adaptive responses (e.g. confidence), intrinsic motivation and adherence to rehabilitation program
  • Social support didn’t directly improve recovery outcomes (e.g. recovery time) but may still play an important role in relation to final outcomes through improvement of psychological responses, motivation and adherence.

Take-home message: Coaches, teammates, member of the medical staff… should ensure a smooth providing of social support (empathy, active listening, bolder self-confidence, encouragement…) to injured athletes. Thus, the injury as a dramatic event could turn into a great way to grow-up (resilience), and to become a stronger athlete and person.


1Shumaker SA, Brownell A. Toward a theory of social support: closing conceptual gaps. J Social Issues 1984; 40(4):11-36.



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