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Distinct latent profiles based on neurobehavioural, physical and psychosocial functioning of former National Football League (NFL) players: an NFL-LONG Study

Abstract

Objective To identify subgroups of former National Football League (NFL) players using latent profile analysis (LPA) and examine their associations with total years of participation (TYP) and self-reported lifetime sport-related concussion history (SR-CHx).

Methods Former NFL players (N=686) aged 50–70 years, with an average 18.0 TYP (±4.5) completed a questionnaire. SR-CHx distributions included: low (0–3; n=221); intermediate (4–8; n=209) and high (9+; n=256). LPA measures included: Quality of Life in Neurological Disorders Emotional–Behavioral Dyscontrol, Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Cognitive Function, Emotional Support, Self-Efficacy, Meaning and Purpose, Physical Function, Pain Interference, Participation in Social Roles and Activities, Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue, and Sleep Disturbance. Demographic, medical/psychiatric history, current psychosocial stressors, TYP and SR-CHx were compared across latent profiles (LPs).

Results A five profile solution emerged: (LP1) global higher functioning (GHF; 26.5%); (LP2) average functioning (10.2%); (LP3) mild somatic (pain and physical functioning) concerns (22.0%); (LP4) somatic and cognitive difficulties with mild anxiety (SCA; 27.5%); LP5) global impaired functioning (GIF; 13.8%). The GIF and SCA groups reported the largest number ofe- medical/psychiatric conditions and higher psychosocial stressor levels. SR-CHx was associated with profile group (χ2(8)=100.38, p<0.001); with a higher proportion of GIF (72.6%) and SCA (43.1%) groups reporting being in the high SR-CHx category, compared with GHF (23.1%), average (31.4%) and somatic (27.8%) groups. TYP was not significantly associated with group (p=0.06), with greater TYP reported by the GHF group.

Conclusions Five distinct profiles of self-reported functioning were identified among former NFL players. Several comorbid factors (ie, medical/psychiatric diagnoses and psychosocial stressors) and SR-CHx were associated with greater neurobehavioural and psychosocial dysfunction.

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