Exploring 25 years of sport, exercise, and health psychology research conducted in eastern Canada: A content analysis


Research studies presented at academic conferences reflect the emerging trends within a discipline (Campbell et al., 2021). A conference that has received considerable anecdotal support as a 'training ground' for the next generation of Canadian trained scholars in the areas of sport, exercise, and health psychology is the Eastern Canada Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium (ECSEPS). This study explored how ECSEPS research presentations have evolved over time and identified current occupations of former ECSEPS presenters. In total, 2,102 abstracts were examined, with 1,204 unique first-author presenters identified. Abstract data on research topics were explored using descriptive statistics, and data on primary research area, research methods, and current occupation were examined across the following time periods: 2000-2004, 2005-2009, 2010-2015, and 2016-2021 using chi-squared tests. Sport psychology was represented most frequently over all time periods; however, exercise and health psychology grew more prevalent over time. Quantitative research methods were used most frequently in all time periods, while qualitative research increased in prevalence over time. The most common research topics were physical activity (13.6%), equity and inclusion, gender, LGBTQ+, special populations (11.5%), personality and interpersonal factors (9.9%), sports and athletes (7.1%), and coaching (6.3%). The proportion of former ECSEPS presenters who held academic positions decreased over time (from 26.2% to 12.6% in the 2000-2004 and 2010-2015 cohorts, respectively). The discussion will focus on how sport, exercise, and health psychology scholars can use these findings to inform decisions about research and promote transparency regarding career opportunities for their graduate students.