The prevalence of mental health disorders in jockeys


  • Priscilla Lynch
  • Univadis Medical News
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New research exploring the mental health of jockeys saw almost four out of five meet the threshold for a common mental disorder (CMD).

The study, published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine, involved an online anonymous survey sent to all Irish professional jockeys, with a response rate of 52 per cent (n=84).

Self-report screening tools for four CMDs (psychological distress, depression, generalised anxiety and adverse alcohol use) were included alongside predictor variables from questionnaires assessing for burnout, career satisfaction, social support, and the contemplation of retirement. Binary logistic regression was used to explore associations between CMDs (present versus not present) and risk factors.

In total, 79 per cent of the jockeys met the threshold for at least one CMD. Prevalence of CMD varied - adverse alcohol (61%), depression (35%), generalised anxiety (27%), and psychological distress (19%).

Risk factors for CMDs included burnout, career dissatisfaction, less social support and the contemplation of retirement.

Study co-author Lewis King said the findings highlight that in general, the prevalence  of CMDs in jockeys is comparable to athletes from other sports. “The risk factors we identified represent a potential method of screening jockeys throughout the season that may facilitate early identification and intervention. Further research is needed to explore wider aspects of jockey mental health.”