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Occurrence and Impacts of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Team-Sport Athletes: A Preliminary Survey

Wilson, PB, Fearn, R and Pugh, J (2022) Occurrence and Impacts of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Team-Sport Athletes: A Preliminary Survey. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 33 (3). pp. 239-245. ISSN 1050-642X

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Although gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are prevalent in endurance athletes, scant research has examined GI symptoms in team-sport athletes, their impacts, and explanatory factors. This study aimed to assess the prevalence and severity of GI symptoms in team-sport athletes and identify potential risk factors.

An observational anonymous survey.


Hundred forty-three athletes (79 men and 64 women) from team-based sports, with soccer, rugby, and American football athletes comprising approximately 75% of the sample.

Assessments of Risk Factors:
Age, gender, body mass index, competition experience, trait anxiety, and resting GI symptoms.

Main Outcomes:
Gastrointestinal symptoms during training and competition.

Overall, past-month GI symptoms during training and competition were mild and relatively infrequent. However, 13.9% and 37.5% of men and women, respectively, reported that GI symptoms had ever impacted their performance. In comparison to men, women reported that nausea, bloating, and abdominal cramping were more likely to have affected performance (P < 0.05). Women also had higher trait anxiety and higher scores for resting GI symptoms, during-training GI symptoms, and during-competition GI symptoms (P < 0.001). Resting GI symptoms were the strongest predictor of training and competition GI symptoms (ρ = 0.46-0.67), although trait anxiety was also consistently correlated with competition GI symptoms (ρ = 0.29-0.38).

This study suggests that female team-sport athletes experience a higher burden of GI symptoms than males, and that resting symptoms and anxiety predict competition symptoms. Interventions targeting anxiety could theoretically reduce GI symptoms in some team-sport athletes, but this should be confirmed through experimental designs.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. The published version of record Wilson, Patrick B. PhD*; Fearn, Robert MD†; Pugh, Jamie PhD‡. Occurrence and Impacts of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Team-Sport Athletes: A Preliminary Survey. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 33(3):p 239-245, May 2023.is available online at:http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/jsm.0000000000001113
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans; Football; Soccer; Female; Male; Athletes; Team Sports; Male; Humans; Female; Athletes; Soccer; Football; Team Sports; 1103 Clinical Sciences; 1106 Human Movement and Sports Sciences; 1116 Medical Physiology; Sport Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health)
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2023 14:43
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2023 00:50
DOI or ID number: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000001113
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/21276
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