Investigating the Effects of Modeling and Imagery on Psychological Factors in the Context of a Hypothetical Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

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Bolkowy, Renee
modeling, imagery, athletic rehabilitation, self-efficacy, scenario-based research
In 2009, 4.1 million Canadians over the age of twelve experienced an activity-limiting injury. Of these injuries 35% occurred from sport or physical activity (Canadian Community Health Survey, 2009). Although injuries occur most commonly in sport and exercise activities, it is difficult to study injured athletes with similar injuries all occurring within the same time frame. Therefore, a scenario protocol was used in the study which described the occurrence of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. The purpose of this study was to compare a modeling, an imagery, and a control group on psychological factors related to a hypothetical injury. Healthy athletes (N=86; M age = 22.06 years; SD = 4.37) who had no recent experience of an injury and had not experienced an ACL injury were included in the study. At baseline, athletes read a scenario that described the occurrence of an ACL injury. Participants then completed questionnaires including, demographic information, expected pain, task and coping efficacy, projected rehabilitation adherence, and movement imagery ability. Within two weeks of completing the baseline testing, participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: control, modeling, or imagery. Participants either met with the primary researcher or were sent a link via email in order to complete the follow-up. At the beginning of the follow-up, all groups were given the scenario to read over. Then participants were given the respective treatment. The modeling condition consisted of a video of an athlete who described his experience of an ACL repair. The guided imagery condition involved a recorded script that detailed the recovery process of an ACL injury. The control condition only read the scenario. Afterwards, participants completed the questionnaires involving expected pain, task and coping efficacy, and rehabilitation adherence. Four separate 3 (group) x 2 (time) repeated measures ANOVAs and two ANCOVAs were conducted to examine between group differences in athletes’ perceptions of pain, task and coping efficacy, and rehabilitation adherence before and after the intervention was administered. No group by time interactions were found for any of the dependent variables. However, there were changes over time for pain, F(1, 81) = 5.97, p = .017, task efficacy, F(1, 79) = 193.23, p < .001, coping efficacy, F(1, 79) = 11.16, p = .001, and frequency of adherence, F(1, 32) = 5.17, p = .03. Findings from manipulation check questions suggest that modeling and imagery could serve as pre-injury education tools for athletes to use if they are faced with an injury in the future.
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