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The role of sport-based social networks in the management of long-term health conditions: Insights from the World Transplant Games

Wiltshire, Gareth and Clarke, Nicola J and Phoenix, Cassandra and Bescoby, Carl (2022) 'The role of sport-based social networks in the management of long-term health conditions: Insights from the World Transplant Games.', International review for the sociology of sport., 57 (2). pp. 256-272.


In the context of an increasing clinical need to better support self-management for people living with long-term health conditions an interest in the role of social networks has emerged. Given that sport participation often provides opportunities for social engagement, a space to explore self-management at the intersection of medical sociology and the sociology of sport has opened up. This article presents findings from an exploratory qualitative study with organ transplant recipients who have participated in Transplant Games events – national and international multi-sport competitions for organ transplant recipients. Our findings illustrate how sport-based social networks serve as resources for health-related knowledge, provide participants with additional affective support and help shape health expectations for the future. Although sport-based social networks were seen as an overwhelmingly positive resource for our participants, it is plausible that harmful unintended consequences could arise for patients with existing self-management issues. As such, it is recommended that people seeking to use sport as a tool to enhance illness self-management should consider the various and powerful ways that social networks can be impactful and anticipate the potential consequences accordingly.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:22 September 2021
Date of first online publication:16 December 2020
Date first made open access:22 September 2021

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