The effectiveness of psychological skills training and behavioural interventions in sport using single-case designs: a meta-regression analysis of the peer-reviewed studies

Jamie B. Barker*, Matthew J. Slater, Geoff Pugh, Stephen D. Mellalieu, Paul J. McCarthy, Marc V. Jones, Aidan Moran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We used a novel meta regression analysis approach to examine the effectiveness of psychological skills training and behavioral interventions in sport assessed using single-case experimental designs (SCEDs). One hundred and twenty-one papers met the inclusion criteria applied to eight database searches and key sport psychology journals. Seventy-one studies reported sufficient detail for effect sizes to be calculated for the effects of psychological skills training on psychological, behavioral, and performance variables. The unconditional mean effect size for weighted (Δ = 2.40) and unweighted (Δ = 2.83) models suggested large improvements in psychological, behavioral, and performance outcomes associated with implementing cognitive-behavioral psychological skills training and behavioral interventions with a SCED. However, meta-regression analysis revealed important heterogeneities and sources of bias within this literature. First, studies using a group-based approach reported lower effect sizes compared to studies using single-case approaches. Second, the single-case studies, (over 90 per cent the effect sizes), revealed upwardly biased effect sizes arising from: (i) positive publication bias such that studies using lower numbers of baseline observations reported larger effects, while studies using larger numbers of baseline observations reported smaller – but still substantial – effects; (ii) not adopting a multiple baseline design; and (iii) not establishing procedural reliability. We recommend that future researchers using SCED’s should consider these methodological issues.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • meta regression analysis
  • psychological skills training
  • single-case experimental designs
  • procedural reliability
  • applied sport psychology

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