Mental health and suicide in former professional soccer players

Russell, E. R., McCabe, T., Mackay, D. F. , Stewart, K., MacLean, J. A., Pell, J. P. and Stewart, W. (2020) Mental health and suicide in former professional soccer players. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, (doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2020-323315) (PMID:32694163) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

Introduction: There is growing recognition of an association between contact sports participation and increased risk of neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. In addition to cognitive impairment, a range of mental health disorders and suicide are proposed as diagnostic features of traumatic encephalopathy syndrome, the putative clinical syndrome associated with neurodegeneration in these populations. However, to date, epidemiological data on contact sport participation and mental health outcomes are limited. Methods: For a cohort of former professional soccer players (n=7,676) with known high neurodegenerative mortality and their matched general population controls (n=23,028), data on mental health outcomes were obtained by individual-level record linkage to national electronic records of hospital admissions and death certification. Results: Compared to matched population controls, former professional soccer players showed lower risk of hospital admission for anxiety and stress related disorders, depression, drug use disorders, alcohol use disorders and bipolar and affective mood disorders. Among soccer players, there was no significant difference in risk of hospitalisation for mental health disorders between outfield players and goalkeepers. There was no significant difference in rate of death by suicide between soccer players and controls. Conclusions: Among a population of former professional soccer players with known high neurodegenerative disease mortality, hospital admissions for common mental health disorders were lower than population controls, with no difference in suicide. Our data provide support for the reappraisal of currently proposed diagnostic clinical criteria for traumatic encephalopathy syndrome, in particular the inclusion of mental health outcomes.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by funding from: The Football Association and Professional Footballers Association; and an NHS Research Scotland Career Researcher Fellowship (WS).
Keywords:Mental health, suicide, neurodegenerative disease.
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McCabe, Dr Thomas and Pell, Professor Jill and MacLean, Dr John and Stewart, Miss Katy and Stewart, Dr William and Mackay, Professor Daniel and Russell, Emma
Authors: Russell, E. R., McCabe, T., Mackay, D. F., Stewart, K., MacLean, J. A., Pell, J. P., and Stewart, W.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:0022-3050
ISSN (Online):1468-330X
Published Online:21 July 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2020
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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