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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


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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