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Article

Psychological Distress and Problem Gambling in Elite Athletes during COVID-19 Restrictions—A Web Survey in Top Leagues of Three Sports during the Pandemic

1
Faculty of Medicine, Depterment of Clinical Sciences Lund, Psychiatry, Lund University, S-22100 Lund, Sweden
2
Malmö Addiction Center, Clinical Sports and Mental Health Unit, S-20502 Malmö, Sweden
3
FIFPRO (global representative for professional football players), Scorpious 161, NL-2132LR Hoofdorp, The Netherlands
4
Spelarföreningen, Sweden (national representative for football players), Göteborgsvägen 84B, S-433 63 Sävedalen, Sweden
5
The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, S-114 86 Stockholm, Sweden
6
School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
7
Swedish Sport Federation, S-100 61 Stockholm, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6693; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186693
Received: 24 June 2020 / Revised: 9 September 2020 / Accepted: 11 September 2020 / Published: 14 September 2020
COVID-19 and lockdown strategies may affect mental health and addictive behavior differently in the population, and elite athletes are among the professions clearly affected by the pandemic. This study in top elite athletes aimed to study current perceived psychological influence from COVID-19 and symptoms of depression, anxiety and changes in alcohol drinking, gambling behavior and problem gambling in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown. This web survey included athletes in top leagues of soccer, ice hockey and handball in Sweden (N = 327, 62% men). A total of 66% and 51% were worried about the future of their sport or about their own future in sports, respectively. Feeling worse psychologically during the pandemic was common (72% of women, 40% of men, p < 0.001); depression criteria were endorsed by 19% of women and three percent of men (p < 0.001); anxiety criteria by 20% of women and five percent of men (p < 0.001). Reporting increased gambling during the pandemic was associated with gambling problem severity. Moderate-risk or problem gambling was seen in 10% of men and none of the women (p < 0.001). Depression and anxiety were associated with feeling worse during the COVID-19 pandemic and with concern over one’s own sports future. In conclusion, COVID-19-related distress is common in elite athletes and associated with mental health symptoms. Gambling increase during the pandemic was rare, but related to gambling problems, which were common in male athletes. The calls for increased focus on COVID-19-related concerns in athletes and on problem gambling in male athletes. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; elite athlete; depression; anxiety; sport; gambling disorder; problem gambling; pandemic; crisis COVID-19; elite athlete; depression; anxiety; sport; gambling disorder; problem gambling; pandemic; crisis
MDPI and ACS Style

Håkansson, A.; Jönsson, C.; Kenttä, G. Psychological Distress and Problem Gambling in Elite Athletes during COVID-19 Restrictions—A Web Survey in Top Leagues of Three Sports during the Pandemic. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 6693. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186693

AMA Style

Håkansson A, Jönsson C, Kenttä G. Psychological Distress and Problem Gambling in Elite Athletes during COVID-19 Restrictions—A Web Survey in Top Leagues of Three Sports during the Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(18):6693. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186693

Chicago/Turabian Style

Håkansson, Anders, Caroline Jönsson, and Göran Kenttä. 2020. "Psychological Distress and Problem Gambling in Elite Athletes during COVID-19 Restrictions—A Web Survey in Top Leagues of Three Sports during the Pandemic" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 18: 6693. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186693

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