Protecting Sporting Integrity and Welfare (PROSPER)

Bridging the gap between research, policy and practice to protect the integrity of sport and the welfare of athletes and support personnel

With a focus on sporting integrity and welfare, our research is providing the evidence base for policymakers and practitioners to respond to a complex and adaptive sporting system, by addressing the context within which threats to integrity and welfare arise. 

Through our research we are reframing threats because of environmental conditions and not just the result of poor personal choice. We recognise that the performance and welfare of sports participants should be mutually reinforcing, not in conflict with each other.

The PROSPER approach is grounded in principles of collaboration, co-production and critical inquiry, to bring about a deeper understanding of athlete and support personnel experiences in order to create social change in sport and society.

our projects

our research community

The PROSPER community includes academic colleagues and postgraduate researchers who are involved in a variety of research projects with wide-reaching impact.

Current postgraduate research students

Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), defined as the acute narrowing of the airway in association with exercise, is prevalent in endurance athletes due to the interaction between physiological demands and environmental irritants, and is concomitant with elevated inhaler therapy use. However, multiple high-profile athletes have been implicated in the misuse of asthma medication, that has led to anecdotal evidence of widespread negative stigma; increasing the risk for medication non-adherence with the potential to impair health and endurance performance. Principally this thesis aims to apply a behavioural model to explore athletes’ experience and perceptions of asthma medication use and anti-doping in sport and investigate the impact of EIB on severe intensity domain exercise tolerance and critical power.

PhD Publications

  • Allen, H., Backhouse, S.H., Hull, J.H., & Price, O.J. (2019). Anti-doping policy, therapeutic use exemption and medication use in athletes with asthma: a narrative review and critical appraisal of evidence. Sports Medicine, 49, 659–668. doi:10.1007/s40279-019-01075-z/li>
  • Jackson, A., Allen, H., Hull, J.H., Hopker, J., Backhouse, S.H., Price, O.J. and Dickinson, J. (2020), Diagnosing exercise‐induced bronchoconstriction: Over‐or under‐detection? Allergy, 75: 460-463. doi:10.1111/all.14005
  • Allen, H., Hull, J.H., Backhouse, S.H., De Carné, T., Dimitriou, L., & Price OJ. (2019). The Allergy Questionnaire for Athletes provides value in ruling-out exercise-induced 2019 bronchoconstriction. Allergy, 74(9):1794-1796. doi:10.1111/all.13778

Athlete Support Personnel (ASP), such as coaches, are subject to anti-doping rule violations under the World Anti-Doping Code. ASP have a significant influence on athletes’ anti-doping attitudes and behaviours, however existing research suggests that ASP anti-doping behaviours are limited. Few research studies have explored the development, implementation and evaluation of anti-doping interventions within ASP development systems. The PhD aims to understand the wider social network surrounding ASP development within the context of English Football, using a contemporary behavioural science framework to understand and explain the disparity between anti-doping policy and practice. Utilising this framework and social network analyses will improve knowledge of doping as a complex, multi-stakeholder issue within a specific sport context, in turn aiding the future development of tailored, evidence-informed ASP anti-doping interventions.

An athlete’s daily dietary intake can have a prevailing impact on their health and performance. However, there is limited research on the dietary behaviours of elite athletes and sport nutritionists lack guideline on the design and implementation of behaviour change interventions. To advance understanding, this PhD utilised contemporary behavioural science to develop a Sports Nutrition Behavioural Assessment Tool that provides a robust, rigorous, and theory-informed approach to delivering a sports nutrition service. This framework has the potential to improve the design and content of future sports nutrition interventions, seeking to create supportive environments that enable athletes to thrive through adherence to sound nutritional practices that protect their health, performance, and wellbeing.

PhD Publications:

  • Bentley, M. R. N., Mitchell, N. and Backhouse, S. H. (2020) Sports nutrition interventions: a systematic review of behavioural strategies used to promote dietary behaviour change in athletes. Appetite, 150, pp. 1-10. doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104645
  • Bentley, M. R. N., Mitchell, N., Sutton, L. and Backhouse, S. H. (2019) Sports nutritionists’ perspectives on enablers and barriers to nutritional adherence in high-performance sport: A qualitative analysis informed by the COM-B model and theoretical domains framework. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37 (18), pp. 2075-2085. doi:10.1080/02640414.2019.1620989

Rugby union and league cumulatively contribute to nearly half of all doping violations in the history of UKAD. Despite taking a central and influential role to athletes’ performance and wellbeing, there is a dearth of evidence around the psychology and behaviour of athlete support personnel (ASP) as well as the broader ‘Performance Team’ in rugby, typically consisting of S&C coaches, nutritionists, physiotherapists and sport scientists. Presently, this MRes aims to investigate the anti-doping influence of this population through semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis to potentially provide recommendations, based upon established theory, to national governing bodies and anti-doping authorities.

Sponsorship is an integral part of the sports industry. This thesis seeks to address the absence of evidence of multi-stakeholder perspectives in the sports sponsorship field regarding how to work with the sporting community to protect the integrity of sport, and the prevention of doping specifically. In order to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the view from all stakeholders, several qualitative studies will be undertaken alongside a process of co-production, to inform industry guidelines which support athletes, brands and anti-doping agencies in protecting the integrity of sport.

Sport has been widely recognised and promoted as a holistic development vehicle, particularly among young people. However, the findings presented to date are unequivocal and stem predominantly from non-sport specific participation domain settings. Likewise, football (soccer) coaches’ perceived role in the psychosocial and moral character development of young players across performance (e.g., academy) and participation (e.g., local level) domains has yet to be investigated. Accordingly, this research seeks to make an original and novel contribution to the literature by exploring the perceived role coaches of boys and girls play in the psychosocial and moral character development of young football players across performance and participation domains.

Richard’s work focuses on system-wide approaches to psychological well-being (PWB) in high-performance sport. By looking at individual and interpersonal aspects of PWB in a series of empirical studies, Richard’s research aims to explore PWB at various levels of sport organizations, including the front lines (e.g., coaches, athletes, support staff), administrative levels (e.g., human resources), and senior management (e.g., directors). The proposed outcome of this PhD is to develop a set of recommendations that showcase how sport organizations can build, monitor, and nourish performance environments where all levels of a high-performance system can effectively protect, maintain, and bolster PWB.

  • Dr Arabella Ashfield. Thesis: Athlete flourishing and the affirmative narrative. Arabella is a Performance Athlete Advisor at the English Institute of Sport   
  • Dr Lea Dohme. Thesis: Youth athletes’ positive psychological development. Lea is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • Dr Kelsey Erickson. Thesis: Doping in sport: A cross-national qualitative analysis of track and field athletes. Kelsey is the Executive Director for Athlete Health and Wellness at USA Cycling. She is also a Visiting Research Fellow in the Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University
  • Dr Helen Heaviside. Thesis: Exploring Performance Expectations of Elite Athletes Conveyed Through the Media. Helen is a Lecturer in Football Business and Research at UCFB
  • Dr Luke Norris. Thesis: A Qualitative Investigation of Social Support among Sports Coaches. Luke is an Associate Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Exeter
  • Dr Laurie Patterson. Thesis: Using a logic model approach to investigate anti-doping education for coaches. Laurie is a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology in the Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University
  • Dr Alexandra Potts. Thesis: A Qualitative Exploration of Stressors, Primary Appraisals, Coping, and Psychological Well-being among Sports Coaches. Helen is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University
  • Dr Helen Staff. Thesis: Dyadic Coping in the coach-athlete relationship: A grounded theory. Helen is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University
  • Dr Lisa Whitaker. Thesis: Applying the prototype willingness model to doping in sport. Lisa is the Research Manager for UK Coaching
  • Dr Pippa Wood. Thesis: Cognitive, Behavioural, and Genetic Manifestations of Mental Toughness in Sport & Exercise Contexts

We can offer a range of consultancy services, based on existing knowledge, to meet the needs of sport and sporting participants.  

Consultancy and applied services

Consultancy and appied services
The entrance Carnegie School of Sport building and outdoor seating area on Headingley Campus

Selected outputs

  • Didymus, F. & Backhouse, S.H. (2020). Coping by doping? A qualitative inquiry into permitted and prohibited substance use in competitive rugby. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 49. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2020.101680
  • Norris, L., Didymus, F.F., & Kaiseler, M. (2020). Understanding social networks and social support resources with sport coaches. Psychology of Sport & Exercise. doi://org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2020.101665
  • Stanger, N., & Backhouse, S. H. (2020). A Multi-study Cross-Sectional and Experimental Examination into the Interactive Effects of Moral Identity and Moral Disengagement on Doping, Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 42(3), 185-200
  • Stanger, N, Whitaker, L, Backhouse, SH. (2020). Testing the validity and reliability of the doping willingness in sport scale. Scand J Med Sci. Sports, 00, 1– 15. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.13683
  • Allen, H., Backhouse, S.H., Hull, J.H., & Price, O.J. (2019). Anti-doping policy, therapeutic use exemption and medication use in athletes with asthma: a narrative review and critical appraisal of evidence. Sports Medicine, 49, 659–668. doi:10.1007/s40279-019-01075-z
  • Bentley, M. R. N., Mitchell, N., Sutton, L. and Backhouse, S. H. (2019) Sports nutritionists’ perspectives on enablers and barriers to nutritional adherence in high-performance sport: A qualitative analysis informed by the COM-B model and theoretical domains framework. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37 (18), pp. 2075-2085. doi:10.1080/02640414.2019.1620989
  • Erickson, K., Patterson, L. & Backhouse, S.H. (2018). “The process isn’t a case of report it and stop”: Athletes’ lived experience of whistleblowing on doping in sport. Sport Management Review, 22 (5), 724-735 doi:10.1016/j.smr.2018.12.001
  • Jowett, G.E., Hill, A.P., Forsdyke, D. and Gledhill, A. (2018). Perfectionism and coping with injury in marathon runners: A test of the 2× 2 model of perfectionism. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 37, 26-32
  • Backhouse S.H., Griffiths C, McKenna, J. (2018). Tackling doping in sport: a call to take action on the dopogenic environment. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(23):1485-1486. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097169
  • Ntoumanis, N., Gucciardi, D., Backhouse, S.H., Barkoukis, V., Quested, E & Patterson, L., Smith. B., Whitaker, L., Pavlidis, G. & Kaffe, S. (2018). An Intervention to Optimize Coach Motivational Climates and Reduce Athlete Willingness to Dope (CoachMADE): Protocol for a Cross-Cultural Cluster Randomized Control Trial. Front. Psychol., 8, 2301  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02301
  • Patterson, L., & Backhouse, S.H. (2018). “An important cog in the wheel”, but not the driver: Coaches’ perceptions of their role in doping prevention. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 37, 117–127
  • Potts, A, J., Didymus, F. F., Kaiseler, M., (2018). Exploring stressors and coping among volunteer, part time and full-time sport coaches. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. 11, 46-48. doi:10.1080/2159676X.2018.1457562
  • Didymus, F. F. (2017). Olympic and international level sports coaches’ experiences of stressors, appraisals, and coping. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 9, 214-232. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2016.1261364
  • Kaiseler, M., Levy, A., Nicholls,A., & Madigan,D. (2017). The Independent and Interactive Effects of the Big Five Personality Dimensions upon Dispositional Coping and Coping Effectiveness in Sport. International Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 1-7. Doi: 10.1080/1612197X.2017.1362459
  • Kaiseler, M., Poolton, J. M., Backhouse, S. H., & Stanger, N. (2017). The Relationship Between Mindfulness and Life Stress in Student-Athletes: The Mediating Role of Coping Effectiveness and Decision Rumination. The Sport Psychologist, 1-30. Doi:10.1123/tsp.2016-0083
  • Staff, H.R., Didymus, F.F. & Backhouse, S.H. (2017). Coping rarely takes place in a social vacuum: Exploring dyadic coping in coach-athlete relationships. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 30, 91 –100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2017.02.009
  • Erickson, K., Backhouse, S.H. & Carless, D. (2017). “I don’t know if I would report them”: Student-athletes’ thoughts, feelings and anticipated behaviours on blowing the whistle on doping in sport? Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 30, 45-54
  • Erickson, K., Backhouse, S.H. & Carless, D. (2017). Doping in Sport: Do parents matter? Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology 6(2):115-128
  • Erickson, K., Backhouse, S.H. & Carless, D. (2016). “The ripples are big”: Storying the impact of doping in sport beyond the sanctioned athlete. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 24, 92-99 doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2016.01.010
  • Patterson, L., Backhouse, S. H. & Duffy, P. (2016). Anti-doping education for coaches: Organisational insights from national and international sporting and anti-doping organisations. Sport Management Review, 19 (1): 35-47

Contact Professor Sue Backhouse