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Health conditions detected in a comprehensive periodic health evaluation of 558 professional football players
  1. Arnhild Bakken1,2,
  2. Stephen Targett1,
  3. Tone Bere1,3,
  4. Maria-Carmen Adamuz1,
  5. Johannes L Tol1,4,5,
  6. Rod Whiteley1,
  7. Mathew G Wilson1,6,7,
  8. Erik Witvrouw1,
  9. Karim M Khan1,
  10. Roald Bahr1,2
  1. 1Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  2. 2Department of Sports Medicine, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3Department of Orthopaedics, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4The Sports Physician Group, Department of Sports Medicine, St Lucas Andreas Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  5. 5Amsterdam Center of Evidence Based Sports Medicine, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  6. 6Research Institute of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
  7. 7Research Institute of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Canberra, Australia
  8. 8Center for Mobility and Hip Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Arnhild Bakken, Department of Sports Medicine, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Sport City street, P.O. Box 29222, Doha, Qatar; arnhild.bakken{at}


Background Despite the widespread use of periodic health evaluation (PHE) to detect and prevent injury and illness in athletes, its effectiveness in detecting health conditions and relevant risk factors is still debated.

Aim To assess health conditions detected by a comprehensive PHE in professional male football players and evaluate their consequences for participation clearance.

Methods A total of 558 professional football players in Qatar completed a PHE prior to the 2013 or 2014 seasons: history, general medical (including blood test), cardiovascular (12-lead ECG and echocardiography) and a musculoskeletal examination, including a specific test battery targeting lower extremity strength and flexibility. On the basis of the PHE, players were either cleared or not cleared for participation.

Results In 533 players (95.5%), at least one health condition was detected requiring treatment or follow-up. Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency (≤30 ng/mL) was the most common medical condition (n=499, 89.4%), followed by hepatitis B non-immunity or infection (n=164, 29.4%). Cardiac screening identified 48 players (8.6%) with one or more abnormal findings (ECG (n=19, 3.4%) and echocardiography (n=14, 2.5%)). Musculoskeletal conditions were observed in 180 players (32.3%); injuries to or strength deficits of the hip/groin and thigh accounted for the largest proportion. Medical clearance was temporarily not given in 69 players (12.4%), while further examinations were being conducted. One player was disqualified from competitive football.

Conclusions PHE revealed a high prevalence of health conditions requiring treatment or follow-up in professional footballers; however, only 12.4% of conditions impacted on final clearance for participation.

  • Prevention
  • Football
  • Health promotion
  • Sports medicine
  • Injury prevention

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