ABSTRACT

CONTEXT: Female endurance athletes exhibit an increased risk of Female Athlete Triad (Triad) and Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S). Triad and RED-S are conditions that explore the health and performance consequences of low energy availability (LEA). Few studies to date have assessed the knowledge that athletes, coaches, and athletic trainers (ATs) have regarding Triad/RED-S. Proper education has been shown to be effective in increasing knowledge of sports medicine concerns for athletes. Yet, there are no known continuing education programs for Triad/RED-S at collegiate institutions.

OBJECTIVE: The primary purpose of this study was to assess the knowledge, confidence, and impact of identifying, screening, treating, and preventing Triad/RED-S.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTING: An evidence-based online survey was developed and administered via QualtricsTM.

PARTICIPANTS: Female collegiate cross-country athletes (n = 275; 20 ± 1 yrs.), collegiate cross-country coaches (n = 55, 34 ± 9 yrs.), and ATs working with cross-country teams (n = 30, 36 ± 11 yrs.).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Knowledge, confidence, and impact scores were assessed between groups using ANOVA. Independent t-tests were used to determine differences in impact scores between people who had or had not received education.

RESULTS: Female cross-country athletes' total knowledge, confidence, and impact scores (mean scores of 25.00 ± 5.27, 95.42 ± 28.83, 18.81 ± 7.05 respectively) were significantly different from scores of coaches (mean scores of 26.92 ± 5.02, 111.35 ± 24.14 and 22.41 ± 6.33) and ATs (mean scores of 28.66 ± 4.02, 117.67 ± 22.53, and 23.93 ± 5.69) (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge, confidence, and impact scores of Triad/RED-S were lowest in female cross-country athletes and highest in ATs. These findings support the call for education, which should be regarded as the primary tool to increase knowledge to improve the prevention and treatment of Triad/RED-S.

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