Researching the mental well being and eating habits of athletes & non-athletes in the United Kingdom

Identifying the prevalence of eating disordered, depressive and co-morbidity symptoms in athletes & the general population

Can you help assist researchers understand mental well being in the UK? You don't need to be a runner, exercise at the gym or even exercise at all!

As long as you are: can take part in this research!

If you'd like to help us understand mental health, have a look at the following FAQs and see if this study is for you. If you decide you'd like to take part, our contact details are at the end of the survey.

HAVE YOU: participated in any organised UK recreational or competitive race from 800 metre to Ultramarathon distance on track or road since August 15th 2012, or are a University 1st to 3rd team athlete? If so, then please complete this survey: (i.e. if you Park run or have taken part in 10k, half marathon or marathon races, you are eligible!).

DO YOU NOT: participate in any other kind of organised sport? Or in running races? and don't exercise any more than 5 hours a week in any activity? Then please complete this survey:


Please read the following information and if you require any more details then contact the research team on the numbers or email addresses provided.

  1. Do I have to take part?
    It's up to you to decide whether you take part in this study. If you do decide to take part, the information you need will be provided at the end of the online survey. You will also be asked to sign a consent form. Your anonymity will be ensured, so although you will provide your name on the consent form, the data you provide will not be identifiable to you. You are free to withdraw from the study at any time up until the questionnaires have been returned (after which you can not withdraw) and do not have to give a reason. A decision not to take part or to withdraw during this time will not penalise you.
  2. Who is doing this research?
    This research in being conducted by Stuart Holliday, under the supervision of Dr Vaithehy Shanmugam of the Psychology department at the University of Central Lancashire.
  3. What is the procedure if I choose to take part? What will I have to do?
    You will first complete the informed consent form and then complete the enclosed questionnaire pack, which assesses your weight, diet and eating habits and any symptoms relating to depression. This shouldn't take any longer than 15 minutes. If you complete the paper version, return it in the envelope provided. If you complete the questionnaire online you'll be prompted to submit when you reach the end.
  4. Are there any possible disadvantages of taking part?
    By taking part in this investigation, you will have the opportunity to open up and reveal personal issues that may have a negative effect on you and you may experience unhappiness. However, be assured that the research is anonymous, confidential and voluntary and help is offered, should you feel you need it.
  5. What are the possible benefits of taking part?
    Taking part in this research can act as a way to reflect on issues that may (or not) have concerned you. Advice on gaining help will be offered, but simply taking part may help you to address issues that have been bothering you and prompt you to seek further help from a medical professional.
  6. What happens when the research study ends?
    Sources of support will be provided should you feel that you need advice or help (provided in the debrief form) whether you participate or not or withdraw during the study. Additionally, if you would like to know the results of the research, I will be happy to send you a report of the findings (upon request), but please note that I will not be able to offer specific details pertaining to yourself.
  7. What if something goes wrong?
    It's extremely unlikely that anything will go wrong. However, we have strict quality control procedures in place should you wish to make a complaint. There are no special compensation arrangements in place should you feel you have experienced particularly negative effects from taking part in the research. However, if you wish to discuss or complain about any aspect of the study please contact Dr Vaithehy Shanmugam ( Additionally the University has a policy relating to Research Misconduct, which is available online at UCLan: Finally, you can contact the Dean of Psychology, Professor Linden Ball (

    If you withdraw from the study, data will not be used and will be destroyed.
  8. What is the purpose of this study?
    The study aims to examine the prevalence of (1) eating disordered symptoms, (2) depressive symptoms and (3) co-morbidity (joint occurrence) of both disorders in a sample of endurance athletes and non-athletes. It is important for psychologists and health professionals to investigate these conditions, as eating disorders and depression can have both long-lasting physiological and psychological consequences. In recent years, athletes have been identified as a group being at increased risk of developing eating disorders. Thus our investigation will compare athlete mental health and well beingĀ for these conditions compared to a sample of people from the general population.
  9. What are the possible benefits of taking part?
    I hope that participating in this study will be beneficial for you, as it is likely to act as a way to reflect on issues that may (or not) have concerned you recently. However, if you feel that you need advice on gaining help please contact one of the following services below.
  10. Support services
    If the research has upset or distressed you in any way, or should you feel that you need advice or help, you may find the following support agencies useful: University counselling service (a free professional and confidential counselling service offered by UCLan to UCLAN students and staff) Tel: 01772 892572; Email: If you are a non-UCLAN student and feel that you need advice or help, please contact your university counselling service. Samaritans (a confidential free support service) Tel: 08457 90 90 90; Email: BeAT (an eating disorder specialist) Tel: 0845 634 1414; Email:
  11. What will happen to the results of the research study?
    The results will be published as part of a PhD thesis and it is anticipated that the findings will be published in a sports or medical journal. You will be notified of how to obtain results once the study is completed (if requested). The results may also be presented at conferences. In all instances, no names or any other identifying features of participants will appear.
  12. Who has reviewed/validated the study?
    The study has been subject to review by experts in the field and ethical approval has been granted by UCLan. The British Milers Club support the study and we are awaiting confirmation from UK Athletics approval and backing for the study. If you are a coach and are seeking information on how to deal with an athlete you suspect or may have an eating disorder, then UKA provide help here:

Contact for further information

If you have any further questions, please contact myself:
Stuart Holliday (PhD researcher)
Tel: (0) 1772 893875
Vaithehy Shanmugam (PhD Supervisor)
Tel: (0) 1772 893257