Are severe musculoskeletal injuries associated with symptoms of common mental disorders among male European professional footballers?
Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy December 2016, Volume 24, Issue 12, pp 3934–3942 Vincent Gouttebarge
To explore the associations of severe musculoskeletal injuries (joint and muscles) and surgeries with symptoms of common mental disorders (distress, anxiety/depression, sleeping disturbance, adverse alcohol behaviour , smoking, adverse nutrition behaviour) among male European professional footballers.
Cross-sectional analyses were conducted on electronic questionnaires completed by professional footballers recruited from the national players’ unions of Finland, France, Norway, Spain or Sweden. The number of severe (time loss of more than 28 days) musculoskeletal injuries (total, joint, muscle) and surgeries during a professional football career was examined through four questions, while symptoms of common mental disorders were evaluated through validated scales.
A total of 540 professional footballers (mean age of 27 years; 54 % playing in the highest leagues) participated in the study. Sixty-eight per cent of the participants had already incurred one or more severe joint injuries and 60 % one or more severe muscle injuries. Prevalence of symptoms of common mental disorders ranged from 3 % for smoking to 37 % for anxiety/depression and 58 % for adverse nutrition behaviour. The number of severe musculoskeletal injuries during a football career was positively correlated with distress, anxiety and sleeping disturbance, while the number of surgeries was correlated with adverse alcohol behaviour and smoking. Professional footballers who had sustained one or more severe musculoskeletal injuries during their career were two to nearly four times more likely to report symptoms of common mental disorders than professional footballers who had not suffered from severe musculoskeletal injuries.
It can be concluded that the number of severe musculoskeletal injuries and surgeries during a career is positively correlated and associated with symptoms of common mental disorders among male European professional footballers. This study emphasises the importance of applying a multidisciplinary approach to the clinical care and support of professional footballers, especially when a player faces lengthy periods without training and competition as a consequence of recurrent severe joint or muscle injuries.
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