The Paralympic athlete: a systematic review of the psychosocial literature.


BACKGROUND There is a lack of knowledge of the psychosocial wellbeing and attributes of Paralympic athletes. Such knowledge may reveal what contributes to exceptional performance. OBJECTIVES To systematically review the literature on psychosocial wellbeing and attributes of the Paralympic athlete. STUDY DESIGN Systematic literature review. METHODS Five key databases that index psychosocial literature were searched: CINAHL, ISI Web of Science, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and SportsDiscus. RESULTS Sixteen papers were found that met the inclusion criteria. The studies were characterised by heterogeneity of design, sample characteristics, outcome assessment and outcomes examined. The emerging thematic areas are 1) participation, motivations and goals; 2) mental imagery; 3) stress and coping; 4) personality; 5) attitudes towards other disabled-bodied athlete groups; 6) knowledge and attitudes towards doping; and 7) transitions to retirement. CONCLUSIONS Relative to the biomechanical aspects of the Paralympian, the psychosocial literature remains limited and diffuse. Nonetheless an understanding of the psychosocial profile of these athletes complements the extant physiological and technological knowledge in enabling a holistic view of what contributes to the successful Paralympic athlete and may facilitate the team working to optimize performance and wellbeing in these high-performing individuals.

DOI: 10.1177/0309364612450184

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@article{Jefferies2012ThePA, title={The Paralympic athlete: a systematic review of the psychosocial literature.}, author={Philip Jefferies and Pamela Gallagher and Simon Dunne}, journal={Prosthetics and orthotics international}, year={2012}, volume={36 3}, pages={278-89} }