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Long term health impact of playing professional football in the United Kingdom
  1. Andy P Turner,
  2. Julie H Barlow,
  3. Christian Heathcote-Elliott
  1. Psychosocial Research Centre, School of Health and Social Sciences, Coventry University, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to:A Turner, Psychosocial Research Centre, School of Health and Social Sciences, Coventry University, Priory St, Coventry CV1 5FB, United Kingdom email: a.turner{at}


Objective—To describe the long term impact of football on the health related quality of life (HRQL) of former professional footballers in the United Kingdom.

Method—A cross sectional survey gathered data from 284 former professional players. Respondents reported medical treatments, osteoarthritis (OA) diagnosis, other morbidity, disability status, and work related disability since their football career. The EuroQol (EQ-5D) and global health rating scales were selected to assess HRQL.

Results—Medical treatment for football related injuries was a common feature, as was OA, with the knee being the most commonly affected joint. Respondents with OA reported poorer HRQL compared with those without OA. As with medical treatments and problems on each of the five EQ-5D dimensions (pain, mobility, usual activities, anxiety/depression, self care), frequency of disability and work related disability were higher among respondents with OA than those without.

Conclusion—This exploratory study suggests that playing professional football can impact on the health of United Kingdom footballers in later life. The development of OA was associated with poorer outcomes on all aspects of HRQL.

  • football
  • retirement
  • osteoarthritis
  • knee
  • health related quality of life

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