Date of Completion

1-30-2012

Embargo Period

1-27-2012

Open Access

Campus Access

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Validation of the Female Athlete Screening Tool in Division I Female Collegiate Athletes at the University of Connecticut

Eating disordered behaviors in athletes have the ability to compromise physical and mental health, increase risk for injury as well as decrease performance. Traditional screening tools for assessing eating disorders may not accurately identify disordered eating pathology in athletes. The Female Athlete Screening Tool (FAST) was specifically designed to assess disordered eating in female athletes. Preliminary studies have validated the FAST in collegiate female populations; however the sample sizes have remained small. The objective of this study was to further validate the FAST in a larger, general population of female collegiate Division I athletes. The FAST and 3 other general eating disorder screening questionnaires were administered to all female athletes at the University of Connecticut (n=556), over a 19-month period with a response rate of 16.3 %. Reliability analysis indicated a high internal consistency of the FAST (Cronbach’s a=0.91). Correlation analysis demonstrated concurrent validity of the FAST with all 3 eating disorder screening tools. Vigorous exercise was the most common weight-control behavior reported among the athletes (18.9 %), followed by vomiting (6.6%) and laxative abuse (4.4%). Of the current subjects, 7.7 % of subjects reported weight-control behavior that met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) criteria used in the diagnosis of BN. Using criteria derived from previous studies, estimates of prevalence of athletes at risk for eating disordered eating in this population ranged from 18.1 % to 41 %. This study further confirms the internal consistency and concurrent validity of the FAST in a general population of female Division I collegiate athletes. Such information is important for effective screening for disordered eating and exercise behaviors in female athletes so that risk can be assessed and appropriate interventions designed and implemented.

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