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Sunday, October 9 Clinical Care; Communications; Critical Thinking and Decision Making; Ethics and Professionalism; Food, Nutrition and Dietetics and Physical Activity; Leadership and Advocacy| Volume 122, ISSUE 10, PA96, October 2022

The Impact of COVID-19 on Nutrition and Mental Health in Division I Student-Athletes: A Mixed-methods Approach

      Learning Outcome

      To determine D1 student-athlete perceptions and experiences regarding nutrition and mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Background

      At a global level, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted dietary patterns, physical activity, and social interactions among adults in the U.S. For Division 1(D1) student-athletes, the adjustments to collegiate training disruptions, cancelled competitions, and ongoing mandates added another level of complexity to their lives.

      Objective

      To determine D1 student-athlete perceptions and experiences regarding nutrition and mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Methods

      A 7-to-8-minute online Qualtrics survey of 29 questions was distributed to D1 student-athletes at The Ohio State University between August 2021 and December 2021 via email. IBM SPSS Statistics 27 was used to calculate response frequencies for closed-ended questions. Qualitative responses were coded and further analyzed for emergent themes.

      Results

      Forty-five percent (n=467) of all D1 student-athletes from 2021-2022 active team rosters completed the survey. Across the 37 teams, there was an average participation rate of 51% from each team. Over 50% of all respondents reported a change in dietary patterns during COVID-19 with 26% reporting eating healthier or more intuitively while 15% reported disordered eating patterns. Of the 52% that reported a change in mood during the pandemic 32% reported a negative mood with 19% self-reporting sadness and 16% reporting depression.

      Conclusions

      Our findings document that the COVID-19 pandemic altered the behaviors and perceptions of Division 1 collegiate athletes in ways that impacted both their nutrition and mental health. It is critical for collegiate sports medicine providers and stakeholders to address these issues to ensure optimal health, safety, and performance of our student-athletes.

      Funding Source

      None