Even NFL Players Face Health Disparities

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Marc Weisskopf, PhD, ScD Cecil K. and Philip Drinker Professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Physiology Departments of Environmental Health and Epidemiology Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA 02115 

Dr. Weisskopf

Marc Weisskopf, PhD, ScD
Cecil K. and Philip Drinker Professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Physiology
Departments of Environmental Health and Epidemiology
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Boston, MA 02115 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: There is a long history of health disparities by race. We were interested to see whether these also show up in professional football players, with the thought that perhaps the advantages that come with being an elite athlete in a sport (e.g. related to income, potential access to carte, prestige) might minimize health disparities.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: Our main findings were really that it did not seem to do that. Many important health disparities are still very present among former NFL players, and that is still true after accounting for many NFL related factors such as position played, years played, etc…

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Reversing health patterns that stem from a long history of systemic inequities are not easily reversed by the socioeconomic advantages that may come along with something like playing a professional sport.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The challenges that underlie these disparities are complex. We need to look beyond just the socioeconomic advantages of playing in the NFL and explore other potential drivers of these disparities so we can better try and address them, including differences in experiences these former players may have had before, during, and after their NFL playing days.. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: No disclosures other than we are supported by the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University, which is in turn sponsored by the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA had no direct role in this study, though.

Citation:

Ann Epidemiol. 2020 Jul 29:S1047-2797(20)30273-8. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2020.07.013. Online ahead of print.
Race in association with physical and mental health among former professional American-style football players: Findings from the Football Players Health Study 

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Aug 3, 2020 @ 10:58 pm

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