UK Rugby Health study
Repeated concussions in professional rugby players associated with poor mental health post retirement.
Former professional rugby players are more likely to show signs of depression, anxiety and irritability compared to amateur rugby players and non-contact athletes.
Players who had suffered five or more concussions were almost twice as likely to report signs of depression, anxiety and irritability compared with players with fewer concussions. These players were also more likely to struggle with feelings of covert anger. Signs of depression and irritability were also more common in rugby players who had suffered three or more concussions in their playing career.
One in two players with three or more concussions experienced these signs of poor mental health compared to one in three players who had suffered less than three concussions. The former professional rugby players were more likely (1.8 to 2.9 times more likely) to suffer from sleep disruption compared to the amateur rugby players and non-contact athletes. In the study, 83 retired elite rugby players were compared with 106 age-matched amateur rugby players and 65 non-contact athletes. They were aged between 22 and 82 years, with an average age of 47.
Researcher: Dr Karen Hind et al.