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Internal consistency reliability of mental health questionnaires in college student athletes
  1. Daniel J Taylor1,
  2. Alisa Huskey1,
  3. Kelly N Kim1,
  4. Sarah E Emert1,
  5. Sophie Wardle-Pinkston1,
  6. Alex Auerbach2,
  7. John M Ruiz1,
  8. Michael A Grandner3,
  9. Rachel Webb4,
  10. Michelle Skog4,
  11. Thomas Milord4
  12. for the Pac-12 Mental Health Coordinating Unit
    1. 1 Department of Psychology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
    2. 2 Toronto Raptors, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    3. 3 Department of Psychiatry, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
    4. 4 Athletics Department, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
    5. 5 The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
    1. Correspondence to Dr Daniel J Taylor, Department of Psychology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA; danieljtaylor{at}


    Objectives To examine the internal consistency reliability and measurement invariance of a questionnaire battery designed to identify college student athletes at risk for mental health symptoms and disorders.

    Methods College student athletes (N=993) completed questionnaires assessing 13 mental health domains: strain, anxiety, depression, suicide and self-harm ideation, sleep, alcohol use, drug use, eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), gambling and psychosis. Internal consistency reliability of each measure was assessed and compared between sexes as well as to previous results in elite athletes. Discriminative ability analyses were used to examine how well the cut-off score on the strain measure (Athlete Psychological Strain Questionnaire) predicted cut-offs on other screening questionnaires.

    Results Strain, anxiety, depression, suicide and self-harm ideation, ADHD, PTSD and bipolar questionnaires all had acceptable or better internal consistency reliability. Sleep, gambling and psychosis questionnaires had questionable internal consistency reliability, although approaching acceptable for certain sex by measure values. The athlete disordered eating measure (Brief Eating Disorder in Athletes Questionnaire) had poor internal consistency reliability in males and questionable internal consistency reliability in females.

    Conclusions The recommended mental health questionnaires were generally reliable for use with college student athletes. To truly determine the validity of the cut-off scores on these self-report questionnaires, future studies need to compare the questionnaires to a structured clinical interview to determine the discriminative abilities.

    • Mental
    • Health
    • Assessment
    • Reliability
    • Psychology

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    • Twitter @iamhuskey, @kellynkim7

    • Collaborators The Pac-12 Mental Health Coordinating Unit group authors include (alphabetically): Douglas Aukerman, M.D., MBA (Oregon State University); Adam Bohr, Ph.D. (University of Colorado – Boulder); Kirstin Carroll, Ph.D. (Oregon State University); Jessica Dietch, Ph.D. (Oregon State University); Lynn Fister (Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being); Fernando Frias, Psy.D., CMPC (Oregon State University); Kimberly G. Harmon, M.D. (University of Washington); Claire Hipkens, LSWAIC (University of Washington); Marissa Holliday, M.Ed., ATC, LAT (University of Colorado – Boulder); Mathew McQueen, Ph.D. (University of Colorado – Boulder); Miguel Rueda, CAT (University of Colorado – Boulder); Kelly Schloredt, Ph.D. (University of Washington); Rachel Walker, Psy.D., HSP, CMPC (University of Colorado – Boulder); Bridget Whelan, M.P.H. (University of Washington).

    • Contributors All authors contributed to the development, execution and publishing of this research project. DJT is the guarantor responsible for the overall content of the research project.

    • Funding This study was supported by a Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative Grant.

    • Competing interests None declared.

    • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

    • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.