MORtality Study of former professional footballers in England and Wales (MORSE) study

The Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), based in Edinburgh, is carrying out an analysis of former professional footballers aged 40 and over in England and Wales.  Participants have been identified from the Barry Hugman website ( and includes over 20,000 former professional footballers.  Subject to receiving the appropriate clearances in a timely manner, it is anticipated that the analysis of the UK study will be completed during early 2024.


IOM are a not-for-profit organisation based in Edinburgh,  Scotland.  For more information, see


What is the purpose of the study?

At present there is no strong evidence that work as a professional footballer increases a person’s risk of death from neurological disorders such as dementia, motor neurone disease or Parkinson’s disease.  We aim to assess mortality in former professional footballers to see how it compares to the general population of England and Wales.  We will also estimate the amount of heading that the former professional footballers have done both in training and during play based on the duration of their playing career, the level played at, decade played in, and the position played, in order to see to what extent these factors affect any excess risks identified.  The study is being led by Professor Damien McElvenny at the IOM, a very experienced researcher in this type of study.


Why am I being told about this?

We want to bring this study to the attention of former professional footballers over the age of 40 (or their close family relatives) who played professionally at some stage of their careers in England or Wales, to inform them that this research is taking place.  Anyone who thinks they (or their close family member) may be a part of the study, but does not want their details used in this new study may opt out by contacting the study team (see contact details below).


Will my details be kept confidential?

IOM will not disclose details of any person studied to any third party, except for the purposes of obtaining death details for those participants that may have died, nor will the IOM identify anyone in any publications arising from the study.  The data used in analyses will consist of month and year of birth, details of playing career and (if applicable) mortality data.


What are the possible benefits of taking part?

This study may help identify whether there are any long-term health risks from having played football professionally in England or Wales.


What happens to the results of the research study?

The IOM researchers in the study will publish the results of the research in scientific journals.  We will also distribute a leaflet summarising the study’s findings to the PFA.


Who is organising and funding the research?

The UK study is being funded by The Colt Foundation (


Who has reviewed the study?

The study will be reviewed by a National Health Service (NHS) Ethics Committee (, by the Health Research Authority’s Confidentiality Advisory Group (, and by NHS England’s Independent Group Advising on Release of Data (  If you wish to seek further advice in relation to any workplace exposures you may have received, we suggest you contact your employer or your trade union representative.


What am I being asked to do?

If you think you are included in the study and you’re happy for your details to be included, then you need do nothing further.  If you (or a relative on your behalf) do not want your details to be used in the study, then please contact the study team directly at [email protected] or telephone 0131 449 8000 and ask for the MORSE Study Team, and your details will be removed from the research database.