Background: Although the link between body dissatisfaction and eating disorder (ED) pathology is well-stablished in general female samples, less is known about correlates of contextual body image (CBI) among female athletes. CBI refers to female athletes experiencing body image concerns in two distinct contexts: sport and daily life (de Bruin et al., 2011). The Contextual Body Image Questionnaire for Athletes (CBIQA) measures four factors of body image (Appearance, Thin-Fat Self-Evaluation, Thin-Fat Others’ Evaluation, and Muscularity) in both contexts. This study sought to A) investigate the psychometric properties of the CBIQA, B) examine the prospective relation of CBI with ED pathology and negative affect among female collegiate athletes, and C) the degree to which CBI prospectively predicts ED pathology and negative affect in female collegiate athletes.
Method: Using self-report data collected from a multi-site parent trial, we first examined the psychometric properties of the CBIQA by conducting a confirmatory factor analysis. We assessed construct validity via cross-sectional bivariate correlation analyses with thin-ideal internalization, negative affect, and ED pathology. Lastly, using data collected at Time 1 and 6 months later (Time 2), we investigated the degree to which CBI prospectively predicted ED pathology and negative affect.
Results: Results from the CFA largely confirmed de Bruin et al.’s (2011) original factor analysis. Two CBIQA factors (Thin-Fat Self and Appearance) in both contexts correlated with ED pathology and negative affect. Thin-Fat Others also correlated with ED pathology in both domains and negative affect in the sport domain. The Muscularity domain was predominantly orthogonal with other measures. CBIQA factors were uncorrelated with thin-ideal internalization. Finally, when controlling for BMI and Time 1 scores, daily life and sport appearance concerns predicted ED pathology, whereas perceived evaluation of thin-fat by others in the sport context predicted negative affect 6 months later.
Conclusions: Results support the psychometric validity of the CBIQA and suggest that this measure appears to capture variance discrete from thin-ideal internalization. The Muscularity factor largely was not related to other outcomes. Further, specific elements of perceived self- and other-evaluation in both contexts is relevant to risk for ED pathology and negative affect. Future research could examine the impact of dual body image between seasons and after transitioning out of sport.
Clinical trials registration: NCT01735994