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Keywords:

  • sports;
  • injuries;
  • coping behaviour;
  • personality;
  • gender

Differences in personality, mood and coping ability between athletes of a high competitive level with long-term injuries (n=81), with a mean age of 24.4 years, and a matched non-injured group (n=64), with a mean age of 24.2 years, were investigated. Three self-rating scales were employed: mood adjective check-list, general coping questionnaire and Karolinska scales of personality. Although no differences in basic personality traits were found, being injured was found to result in a depressed mood state and in the activation of coping strategies directed at receiving help. Comparisons were made between injured male and female athletes as well as between team-sport and individual-sport athletes. Women were found to become more anxious and tense and to have a stronger inclination to use emotion-focused coping strategies. Team-sport athletes were found to cope more in terms of ‘passive acceptance’ of help from others, whereas individual athletes were found to activate ‘problem-solving’ strategies in face of a stressor. The results suggest that social aspects of rehabilitative work are important and support the concept that rehabilitative work with long- term injured athletes should be individualized to be maximally effective. They also support the usefulness of cognitive models of the injured athlete's experience of being long-term injured. Such models, however, do not account for differences between the sexes or between individual and team athletes.