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What is unified validity theory and how might it contribute to research and practice with athlete self-report measures
  1. Johann Windt1,2,3,
  2. David Taylor2,3,
  3. Dustin Nabhan2,3,
  4. Bruno D Zumbo4
  1. 1Experimental Medicine Program, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2Sports Medicine Division, United States Olympic Committee, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
  3. 3US Coalition for the Prevention of Illness and Injury in Sport, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
  4. 4Measurement, Evaluation, and Research Methodology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Johann Windt, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, V5Z 1M9, Canada; johann.windt{at}usoc.org

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Athlete self-report measures (ASRMs) are an extremely popular athlete monitoring tool in professional sports.1 Their popularity stems from their ease of use, low/no cost, and a growing body of literature that highlights that ASRMs are more sensitive to injury/illness risk than many physiological biomarkers.2 Whether ASRMs are used to examine athletes’ data once (eg, preseason baseline testing) or to regularly monitor athletes over time (eg, daily or weekly), the results are often used to drive decision-making and load management in elite sport. However, these decisions may be flawed if inappropriate conclusions are reached. When sports medicine practitioners decide on an ASRM, tensions may exist between practical, short, custom solutions and generally longer, scientifically ‘validated’ surveys. In this editorial, we introduce unified validity theory and discuss how it might ease this tension.

The tension between research and practice when using ASRMs

Athlete engagement is a challenge in applied sport settings, and athletes report that the time it takes to complete surveys is a barrier to ASRM use.3 The more comprehensive the measure, the longer it takes for athletes to complete, and the lower the uptake. This has led to a plethora of ‘bespoke’, short surveys/questionnaires used in applied practice that often resemble the items (eg, sleep quality, stress, fatigue and muscle soreness) in the original work by Hooper et al.4

As ASRMs continued to rise in popularity, academic discussions brought validity considerations to the forefront—calling researchers to use …

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