The Scottish Football Association


Scottish roots behind Dementia research study

Wednesday, 06 December 2017

Dr John MacLean has spoken of his pride at the involvement of Hampden Sports Clinic in a significant research study into dementia in football.

Last month, the FA and PFA in England unveiled plans for a project which will see Hampden Sports Clinic staff team up with Dr Willie Stewart and colleagues at the University of Glasgow.
The new study – titled ‘Football’s Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk’ (FIELD) - is scheduled to start next month.

The appointment of the research team was made by the FA Expert Panel on Concussion following an open tender process and will address the question: ‘is the incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease more common in ex-professional footballers than in the normal population?'

The research group will analyse Scottish data of former professional footballers and compare those results to matched general population health data.


MacLean – who is also Scottish FA Chief Medical Consultant and National Teams Doctor – explained: “The aims of the research project are to determine whether the incidence of dementia in ex-professional footballers is the same, greater or less than the general population.

“This comes on the back of a growing and understandable interest from the general public as more and more high profile players are diagnosed with dementia.

“There’s an obvious concern within the football community and the general public that there may be a link.
“Up until now the science hasn’t been able to prove that one way or another.

“The aim of FIELD, our study, is to determine whether that incidence is greater in that group of former footballers compared to the public.

“The clinic at Hampden has a multifactorial remit including both education and research.

“My colleague, Dr Katy Stewart, and I have honorary positions at Glasgow University so we’ve been working with students at university, teaching and supervising projects for the last 20 years.

“So when there was a call from the FA and the PFA looking for suitable research groups to come forward with a project, our group, led by Dr Willie Stewart from the University of Glasgow put together a research proposal and were delighted when we were awarded the grant.

“The FA and PFA have funded this important research but we are proud that this is a study that will be carried out in Scotland However, the answer we get at the end of the study is applicable to world football.”


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