A prospective cohort study on symptoms of common mental disorders among current and retired professional ice hockey players

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Objectives: Scientific knowledge about symptoms of common mental disorders in professional ice hockey is lacking. Consequently, the primary aims of the study were to (i) determine the prevalence, comorbidity and 6-month incidence of symptoms of common mental disorders (distress, anxiety/ depression, sleep disturbance, adverse alcohol use, eating disorders) among current and retired professional ice hockey players and (ii) evaluate their potential relation with potential stressors (severe musculoskeletal injuries, surgeries, recent life events, career dissatisfaction). Methods: A prospective cohort study with a 6-month follow-up period was conducted. Using validated questionnaires to assess symptoms of common mental disorders (thus not clinically diagnosed) as well as several stressors, an electronic questionnaire was set up and distributed by the national ice hockey players' unions from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Switzerland. Results: Prevalence ranged from 8% for adverse alcohol use to 24% for anxiety/depression among current professional ice hockey players, and from 12% for distress to 29% for adverse alcohol among retired professional ice hockey players. Six-month incidence reached up to 22% for eating disorders among current players and 25% for sleep disturbance among retired players. Especially a higher number of surgeries, a higher number of recent life events and higher level of career dissatisfaction was related to symptoms of common mental disorders. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that adequate interventions should be developed to improve not only awareness and psychological resilience of both current and retired ice hockey players but also their performance and quality-of-life. An interdisciplinary approach should be applied in the medical care of ice hockey players by including psychologists/psychiatrists who can provide psychotherapeutic or clinical interventions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-258
JournalPhysician and Sportsmedicine
Issue number3
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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