The more complete female athlete : physical health, mental health, and how we talk about it
- After decades of work to identify and remove barriers to sports participation, female athletes are now participating in recreational and competitive sports at record numbers. However, female athletes are still underrepresented in sports research, leaving dangerous gaps in knowledge that we need to fill to encourage the development of more complete female athletes with better performance, healthier bodies, and improved mental health. Epidemiology provides a helpful framework for confronting these knowledge gaps and preventing them from undercutting the next generation of female athletes. It's urgent that female athletes are not treated as "smaller" male athletes, or worse—ignored altogether. By studying female athletes and addressing the unique physiological and sociological challenges they face, then translating the research into practical guidance and education, we have an opportunity to support generations of athletes to come. Every female athlete should have the tools to find their personal definition of "strong, " understanding how that individual and evolving strength will bring out their best in sports and in life. In this dissertation, I address pressing problems facing female athletes to evaluate new strategies for improving health and well-being by applying epidemiological principles and studies on research translation. The chapters in this dissertation intersect to cover six themes: (1) mental health; (2) bone health; (3) energy availability; (4) menstrual cycle; (5) performance; and (6) research translation (Figure 1-1). Chapter 1 introduces the scope of the field and how the themes intersect. In Chapters 2 and 3, we evaluate the effect of a nutrition education intervention on bone stress injury rates among female distance runners at two NCAA Division I institutions across a seven-year prospective study. In Chapter 4, we examine how a five-part video education series compares to online educational pamphlets for improving high school female runners' knowledge and for capturing their interest. In Chapter 5, we assess the risk of the Female Athlete Triad in ultramarathoners and complete exploratory analyses examining hormonal biomarkers and bone mineral density. And finally, in Chapter 6, we examine how early COVID-19 restrictions impacted the mental health and training of endurance athletes, which provides a broader context for how mental and physical health can be impacted by external factors, and how we can support athletes who are navigating prolonged breaks from competition. Recognizing and uplifting female athletes requires understanding their unique mental and physical health contexts, addressing the specific challenges they face, and empowering them to find their strong, in sports and in life.
|Type of resource
|electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
|1 online resource.
|Roche, Megan Deakins
|Nelson, Lorene M
|Degree committee member
|Nelson, Lorene M
|Stanford University, School of Medicine
|Stanford University, Program in Epidemiology
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Program in Epidemiology.
|Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.
- © 2023 by Megan Deakins Roche
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC-ND).
Also listed in
Loading usage metrics...