To assess the prevalence
of symptoms of depression
, and rates of alcohol misuse in elite rugby league
players in Australasia.
A cross-sectional, epidemiological study with repeated measures.
Surveys were conducted during the 2015 preseason and in-season.
Four hundred four elite rugby league
players participated preseason and 278 players in-season.
Main Outcome Measures:
Symptoms of depression
were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 scale, symptoms of generalized anxiety
disorder (GAD) with the GAD-7 scale, and the Alcohol Use
Disorders Identification Test Consumption scale was used to assess hazardous alcohol use
The overall prevalence
was 12.6% preseason and 10.1% in-season. Generalized anxiety
disorder had a prevalence
of 14.6% and 10.1% for these 2 periods. Overall, 68.6% of players had hazardous levels of alcohol use
preseason, and 62.8% in-season. There was no significant difference for any of the main outcomes between the periods. Players with a history of mental illnesses had 5.62 greater odds (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.62-12.04) of depression
than those without during preseason, and 22.08 greater odds (95% CI, 7.77-62.71) in-season. Players reporting ≥3 previous concussions had 2.02 greater odds (95% CI, 1.07-3.82) of depression
than those reporting ≤2 in the preseason sample.
Conclusions: Rugby league
players have a lower prevalence
compared with studies of the general population and other athletes, but a higher prevalence
of GAD, and high rates of alcohol misuse. Clubs may consider implementing regular screening for these conditions. Further prospective research to determine causality of independent factors is required.