The association between mindfulness and mental health outcomes in athletes: testing the mediating role of autonomy satisfaction as a core psychological need

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Mindfulness may improve well-being through increasing one’s ability to self-regulate stressors, which are common and multifaceted among the student-athlete population. However, the mechanisms for influencing such effects lack a theoretical basis. Therefore, we sought to (i) determine the relationship between mindfulness, well-being and stress in student-athletes, and (ii) assess the mediating role of autonomy satisfaction, an innate psychological need required for optimal well-being according to Self-Determination Theory. This was a cross-sectional study of 240 student-athletes (aged 20.5; SD = 3.29; 53.7% males). Mindfulness and autonomy were regressed onto well-being (Model 1) and stress (Model 2) in multivariate regression models assessing direct and indirect mediating mechanisms. More than a third of athletes scored low on well-being, and only 3% high, and a significant proportion of variance was explained in both models (Model 1: R 2 =.40; Model 2: R 2 =.37). Mindfulness directly predicted autonomy satisfaction (β =.42, p <.001), well-being (β =.26, p <.001), and stress (β = −.21, p <.001). Autonomy satisfaction also directly predicted well-being (β =.47; p <.001) and stress (β = −.48; p <.001), whilst partially mediating the association between mindfulness and well-being (indirect β =.19) and stress (indirect β = −.20). To conclude, mindfulness may improve well-being and reduce stress through increasing athletes’ capacity to self-regulate, satisfying the psychological need for autonomy. Future research may consider designing a controlled trial of mindfulness interventions for student-athletes, underpinned and tested using SDT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Early online date5 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Meditation
  • health
  • psychology
  • self-determination theory
  • sport

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