Study Addresses Mental Health Concerns In Professional Footballers

Prof.dr. Judith K. Sluiter Principal Investigator Manager KMKA: Kenniscentrum Medische Keuringen in Arbeid Nationaal secretaris voor ICOH (International Commission on Occupational Health) Coronel Instituut voor Arbeid en Gezondheid, Academisch Medisch Centrum / UvA Meibergdreef AmsterdamMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof.dr. Judith K. Sluiter Principal Investigator
Manager KMKA: Kenniscentrum Medische Keuringen in Arbeid
Nationaal secretaris voor ICOH (International Commission on Occupational Health)
Coronel Instituut voor Arbeid en Gezondheid, Academisch Medisch Centrum / UvA Meibergdreef Amsterdam

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Prof. Sluiter: Professional footballers contain a group of employees working in a job with specific job demands. The occupational guidance and prevention of decreased work functioning of workers in these kinds of jobs should receive more attention. The mental health of professional footballers receive less attention compared to their physical health. We studied the prevalence of self-reported mental health problems and psychosocial difficulties in a group of current and former professional footballers, and we explored the association between having had psychosocial stressors and the health conditions under study.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: The response rate was 29% with available data from 253 footballers. In current players, the prevalence of mental health complaints ranged from 5% (burnout) to 26% (anxiety/depression). In former players, the prevalence ranged from 16% (burnout) to 39% (anxiety/depression). A small percentage of players had low self-esteem (3-5%). One quarter to two-fifth of the players showed adverse nutrition behaviour. Small but significant association between experiencing lower social support (OR=1.1) and having had recent life events (OR=1.4-1.6) and mental health complaints were found in current players. Having had severe injuries was associated with better nutrition behavior. In former players, having had life events showed a preventive effect on smoking (OR=0.4) and having had previous surgery was significantly associated with current smoking behavior (OR=1.9).

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Prof. Sluiter: This is a first indication that the mental health of professional footballers deserves (more) preventive attention when making an occupational health strategy to guide this group of workers. Raising professional footballers’ awareness of mental and psychosocial health issues that may occur during and after their career seems to be a minimum requirement.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Prof. Sluiter: Including screeners of stress and depression in a mandatory periodic workers’ health surveillance to study the prevalence in this group in a more precise manner would be a good next step. After that, introducing preventive interventions focusing on improvement of mental health complaints and evaluating these interventions in the group of current professional footballers.

Citation:

Gouttebarge, M. H. W. Frings-Dresen, and J. K. Sluiter

Mental and psychosocial health among current and former professional footballers Occup Med (Lond) first published online January 31, 2015 doi:10.1093/occmed/kqu202

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with:, & Prof.dr. Judith K. Sluiter (2015). Study Addresses Mental Health Concerns In Professional Footballers MedicalResearch.com