Frequently Asked Questions

+ What is the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University?

The Football Players Health Study is working on prevention, diagnostics, and treatment strategies for the most common and severe conditions affecting professional football players. We are focused on the integrated health of football players, not solely one concern or condition. Our work is on the cutting edge, pushing innovative ideas forward and turning discovery into therapy. In addition, the Study is working to understand the legal and ethical issues that may promote or impede player wellbeing, and developing responsive recommendations to resolve them. In order to determine what these issues are and what is important to former players, we are gathering input and listening to them.

+ How is the Football Players Health Study different?

We are the largest Study to date of living former players, with over 4,000 participants as of May 2019. We are a comprehensive study that is examining all health concerns – in essence, becoming the “home” study for all former players. We are working to use the collective knowledge of former players and scientists, and to translate this into action, which will lead to improving the quality of life for football players. The Study is player-led and player-supported, and we intend to share results and new discoveries with you, the former players. We are not directed by any external agencies, and as a university we maintain independence and report the facts. We listen to former players and incorporate their input.

+ I’ve participated in studies before and have never seen results. How is this Study different?

Research takes time, but we aim to recruit thousands of former players and move through aspects of the Study quickly, gathering as much data as possible and sharing early findings with you. Your continued participation in the Study is critical, so we keep the research focused on what is most important to players.

+ What does it mean to join the Study? What do I have to do?

Former players can take part in some studies. As we expand our research studies and address specific conditions and patterns, we will gather information that will transform the health and quality of life for former players. Please visit the Participate page or contact our study staff to get started.

+ What about privacy and confidentiality? How is the information I share with you protected?

The privacy of our participants is of utmost importance to our research team. We have taken precautions to ensure that your data and any information you share with us are kept private, and your information is stored in a secure academic research database. We will not identify you in any publication or presentation without your permission. Confidentiality is critical and central to the Study. We rely on the legal expertise of Harvard Law School to insure that privacy and confidentiality is protected. All of our staff are trained to work with highly confidential information, and abide by strict standards.

+ With whom is my information shared?

Only a limited number of Harvard researchers have access to the information you share with us. Your personal information will not be shared with the NFLPA or the NFL. We are not a part of current lawsuits or settlements. We are not a part of any insurance plans, and all information you share is separate from your medical records.

+ How is the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University funded?

The Study was developed by players, for players. It began in 2014 in part through an award from the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). The Study largely utilizes funds allocated for research by the collective bargaining agreement. Many of the resources utilized by this initiative are shared across supporting Harvard institutions.

Harvard’s study is an independent research study. The research is not directed by the NFL, NFLPA, or any other stakeholder, nor do any of these organizations exercise control over the research direction, findings, or recommendations.

The NFLPA is supporting the Study research activities with a $56M award for a seven-year period (2014-2021).

+ How does Harvard University benefit from conducting this Study? What’s in it for the researchers?

Other than advancing our scientific understanding of player health, Harvard University does not gain any specific benefits from conducting this Study. Our faculty and research teams are honored to be part of this landmark Study, and have a passion for health and wellness. As professional researchers, we have strict conflict of interest policies to ensure the integrity of our work. We seek to earn the trust of former players through our many activities and endeavors, and never take that privilege for granted.