Computer-based Coping Strategies Intervention and Psychological and Physiological Variables

Susan Sotir, Springfield College, USA

Theme: Mental training/interventions

Program ID: LEC-08C

Presentation: October 3, 2013 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Room: Magnolia


The purpose of the study was to assess the effectiveness of a psychological skills intervention on coping strategies by measuring psychological, physiological, and exercise performance variables in a laboratory setting. Physically active males (N = 18), age range 18 – 30y, with no previous maximal exercise test experience were grouped (control = 9; intervention = 9) to balance participant levels of trait anxiety. The intervention group completed a computer-based educational module that included four positive coping strategies (humor, positive reframing, acceptance, and planning). Participants completed the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2R (Cox, Martens, & Russell, 2003; Martens et al., 1990), further revised to measure directionality (Jones & Swain, 1992), prior to and following a graded exercise test. Saliva samples were collected three times and levels of salivary cortisol were measured. A significant multivariate interaction effect was identified (Wilks’ ? = .564) for the mean vector of directionality of state anxiety. Univariate testing for the interaction of pre-test/post-test differences indicated a significant difference between the groups for the directionality of cognitive anxiety (p = .004) and self-confidence (p = .02). Mean differences in cortisol concentration occurred at baseline (?control = .373, ?intervention = .251), pre-test (?control = .426, ?intervention = .227), and post-test (?control = .615, ?intervention = .331). A single session, computer-based coping strategies intervention resulted in differences in the directionality of state anxiety and in mean levels of salivary cortisol, offering evidence of a both a psychological and a physiological response to a psychological skills intervention. Demonstrating positive changes from a computer-based intervention module may offer educational opportunities for athletes in remote locations or with limited resources. More facilitative perceptions of the symptoms of state anxiety may lead to greater persistence, confidence, enjoyment, and effort, while possibly reducing catabolic hormone levels during intense exercise.

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