Loughborough University
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Associations between retirement reasons, chronic pain, athletic identity, and depressive symptoms among former professional footballers

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-09-25, 14:08 authored by George Sanders, Clare StevinsonClare Stevinson
Background: Retirement from professional sport has been recognised as a major psychological stressor, and there is a need to identify factors that increase the risk of mental health problems after career termination. The current study examined associations between career-ending injury, chronic pain, athletic identity and depressive symptomology in retired professional footballers. Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed with 307 retired male footballers who had played within a professional United Kingdom league. Participants completed measures of depressive symptoms (Short Depression-Happiness Scale), chronic pain (Pain Intensity Numerical Rating Scale), and athletic identity (Athletic Identity Measurement Scale), and reported their reasons for retirement. Results: A total of 48 participants (16%) met the cut-off score for possible cases of clinically-relevant depression. These participants were more recently retired, and had higher athletic identity than those without depressive symptoms. Former players with depressive symptoms were more likely to cite injury as a retirement reason, and report higher levels of ongoing injury-related pain. Multivariate logistic regression revealed that presence of depressive symptoms was independently associated with retirement through injury (OR = 3.44; 95% CI = 1.39, 8.51), higher pain levels (OR = 1.38; 95% CI = 1.02, 1.86), and increased athletic identity (OR = 1.28; 95% CI = 1.14, 1.44). Conclusions: Career-ending injury is strongly associated with higher odds of depressive symptomology during retirement, while experiencing chronic pain, and maintaining a high sense of athletic identity, are additional potential contributors.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

European Journal of Sport Science








SANDERS, G. and STEVINSON, C., 2017. Associations between retirement reasons, chronic pain, athletic identity, and depressive symptoms among former professional footballers. European Journal of Sport Science, 17(10), pp. 1311-1318.


© European College of Sport Science. Published by Taylor & Francis


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in European Journal of Sport Science on 14 September 2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17461391.2017.1371795.




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