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A Qualitative Study of 11 World-Class Team-Sport Athletes’ Experiences Answering Subjective Questionnaires: A Key Ingredient for ‘Visible’ Health and Performance Monitoring?

McCall, Alan; Wolfberg, Adrian; Ivarsson, Andreas; Dupont, Gregory; Larocque, Amelie; Bilsborough, Johann


Adrian Wolfberg

Andreas Ivarsson

Gregory Dupont

Amelie Larocque

Johann Bilsborough


Background: Athlete monitoring trends appear to be favouring objective over subjective measures. One reason of potentially several is that subjective monitoring affords athletes to give dishonest responses. Indeed, athletes have never been systematically researched to understand why they are honest or not. Objective: Because we do not know what motivates professional athletes to be honest or not when responding to subjective monitoring, our objective is to explore the motives for why the athlete may or may not respond honestly. Methods: A qualitative and phenomenological approach was used, interviewing 11 world-class team-sport athletes (five women, six men) about their experiences when asked to respond to subjective monitoring questionnaires. Interview transcripts were read in full and significant quotations/statements extracted. Meanings were formulated for each interviewees’ story and assigned codes. Codes were reflected upon and labelled as categories, with similar categories grouped into an overall theme. Themes were examined, articulated, re-interpreted, re-formulated, and written as a thematic story, drawing on elements reported from different athletes creating a blended story, allowing readers a feel for what it is like to live the experience. Results: Overall, four key themes emerged: (i) pursuit of the ideal-self, (ii) individual barriers to athlete engagement, (iii) social facilitators to athlete engagement; and (iv) feeling compassion from performance staff. Conclusions: Our main insight is that athletes’ emotions play a major role in whether they respond honestly or not, with these emotions being driven at least in part by the performance staff asking the questions.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 24, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 10, 2023
Publication Date 2023-05
Deposit Date Feb 1, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 21, 2023
Print ISSN 0112-1642
Electronic ISSN 1179-2035
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 53
Issue 5
Pages 1085-1100


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