Sport Injury-Related Growth
: Theory-to-Practice

  • Kylie Roy-Davis

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explored the concept of sport injury-related growth (SIRG). Specifically, the mechanisms through which growth occurs and how it may be promoted for injured athletes. Study 1 used a grounded theory methodology to develop a context-specific theory. Aligning with a Straussian approach, data was collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed using open, axial, and selected coding. Findings revealed that the mechanisms of (a) meta-cognition, (b) positive reappraisal, (c) positive emotions, and (d) facilitative responses are what enable SIRG. These mechanisms are influenced by a combination of internal (e.g., personality) and external (e.g., received social support) factors. These factors enable injured athletes to alter their perception of their injury into an opportunity for growth, and it is by drawing upon and mobilizing a variety of these resources that athletes are able to experience SIRG. Dimensions of growth were psychosocial, physiological, and behavioral. Although this study produced a theory that explains the SIRG process, it does not propose specific techniques or therapies that encourage the development of growth. To address this issue, Study 2 aimed to investigate and identify evidence-based interventions that promote growth after experiencing adversity. To achieve this aim, a systematic review was conducted on literature pertaining to the promotion of growth for populations who have undergone a stressful experience (e.g., medical illness). In total, 34 studies were located and obtained that met the preplanned inclusion criteria. Within these 37 studies, three types of interventions were identified: emotional processing, cognitive processing, and combined techniques. The authors of the studies who successfully demonstrated the promotion of growth either identified or suggested that growth occurs through the mechanisms of cognitive restructuring and/or reappraisal. Other important considerations that were identified through this review were the duration and timing of the intervention in relation to the adverse event, and the importance of the intervention meeting the needs of the participants. Although this study offers valuable insight into how growth may be more successfully nurtured, the studies included within this review did not specifically focus on promoting growth for injured athletes. Consequently, Study 3 sought to complement this study by examining the practice-based experiential knowledge of sport psychologists who have worked with injured athletes in an applied manner. In total, 10 sport psychologists were purposively sampled and interviewed. Data was collected using a semi-structured interview guide and analysed using content analysis. Findings revealed a fluid development framework that consisted of 5 phases: (a) reactionary phase, (b) preparation phase, (c) reflection phase, (d) application phase, and (e) monitoring phase. Within each phase a set of corresponding strategies, skills, and tools were identified that the sport psychologists would utilize to match the needs of the athletes. The sport psychologists also identified a number of personal and environmental factors that either promoted or hindered the development of SIRG. Altogether, this thesis supports and extends research regarding growth and sport injury, as well as offering applied practitioners useful information for promoting SIRG.
Date of Award10 Oct 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorCeri Diss (Supervisor), Ross Wadey (Supervisor) & Lynne Evans (Supervisor)


  • Sport Injury, Growth, Grounded Theory, Evidence-Based Practice, Practice-Based Evidence Sport Injury, Growth, Grounded Theory, Evidence-Based Practice, Practice-Based Evidence

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