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What Contributes to Athlete Performance Health? A Concept Mapping Approach

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posted on 2023-08-24, 01:24 authored by EA Smyth, Alex DonaldsonAlex Donaldson, MK Drew, M Menaspa, J Cooke, SA Guevara, Craig PurdamCraig Purdam, C Appaneal, R Wiasak, L Toohey
Background: In high-performance sport, athlete performance health encompasses a state of optimal physical, mental, and social wellbeing related to an athlete’s sporting success. The aim of this study was to identify the priority areas for achieving athlete performance health in Australia’s high-performance sport system (HPSS). Methods: Participants across five socioecological levels of Australia’s HPSS were invited to contribute to this study. Concept mapping, a mixed-methods approach incorporating qualitative and quantitative data collection, was used. Participants brainstormed ideas for what athlete performance health requires, sorted the ideas into groups based on similar meaning and rated the importance, and ease of achieving each idea on a scale from 1 (not important/easiest to overcome) to 5 (extremely important/hardest to overcome). Results: Forty-nine participants generated 97 unique statements that were grouped into 12 clusters following multidimensional scaling and hierarchical cluster analysis. The three clusters with highest mean importance rating were (mean importance rating (1–5), mean ease of overcoming (1–5)): ‘Behavioral competency’ (4.37, 2.30); ‘Collaboration and teamwork’ (4.19, 2.65); ‘Valuing athlete wellbeing’ (4.17, 2.77). The 12 clusters were grouped into five overarching domains: Domain one—Performance health culture; Domain two—Integrated strategy; Domain three—Operational effectiveness; Domain four—Skilled people; Domain five—Leadership. Conclusion: A diverse sample of key stakeholders from Australia’s HPSS identified five overarching domains that contribute to athlete performance health. The themes that need to be addressed in a strategy to achieve athlete performance health in Australia’s HPSS are ‘Leadership’, ‘Skilled people’, ‘Performance health culture’, ‘Operational effectiveness’, and ‘Integrated strategy’.


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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health





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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute



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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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