Graduate Program

Kinesiology and Sports Studies

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Summer 2023

Thesis Director

Maranda D. Schaljo

Thesis Committee Member

Carly A. Wahl

Thesis Committee Member

Colleen N. Kattenbraker


Research has consistently established the relationship between injury occurrence and subsequent mental health concerns within the athletic population (Brown et al., 2014; NCAA, 2021). Specifically, negative mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and social isolation have followed the occurrence of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear (McGinley et al., 2022; Töyrä & Bergström, 2017). Similarly, because of high levels of athletic identity (AI), the inability to participate in a sport due to injury has been associated with disordered eating (DE) (Gusfa et al., 2022). Despite this, no studies have examined disordered eating and the role of athletic identity after sustaining an ACL tear in female soccer players, a population with high incidence of ACL injuries. The purposes of this research were to determine if ACL tears predicted DE behaviors among female collegiate soccer players, and if high levels of AI predicted DE behaviors after a sustained ACL tear in female collegiate soccer players. Data was collected from 114 female soccer players (64 ACL injured, and 50 non-ACL injured) who completed a demographic questionnaire, the Eating Attitude Test (EAT-26), and the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS). Linear regression analyses revealed that the occurrence of an ACL tear and high levels of AI did not predict DE in female collegiate soccer players (p = .508; p = .302). Based on these results, it appears that regardless of an incurred ACL injury, and no matter how much one identifies with the role of being an athlete, these variables do not impact the risk of developing DE in female collegiate soccer players. Consequently, future research should examine other potential factors that may impact disordered eating behaviors among female athletes following a recent sustained ACL tear such as weight gain anxiety, exercise identity, and body dissatisfaction in this population.

Available for download on Thursday, May 16, 2024