Racehorse Trainer Mental Health: Prevalence and Risk Factors

Lewis King, Sarah Jane Cullen, Siobhan O'Connor, Adrian McGoldrick, Jennifer Pugh, Giles Warrington, Ciara Losty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Racehorse trainers play an important role within the horseracing industry. Despite this, scarce empirical information exists regarding the mental health of this population. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to explore the prevalence of symptoms related to common mental disorders (CMDs) and their associations with specific risk factors for CMD. Participants completed an anonymous online questionnaire. CMDs were assessed including distress, depression, generalized anxiety and adverse alcohol use. The risk factors examined included career dissatisfaction, social support and financial difficulties. 124 participants (28% response rate) completed the questionnaire. In total, 45% met the threshold indicative of at least one CMD. Specifically, prevalence of symptoms associated with depression (41%), adverse alcohol use (38%), psychological distress (26%), and generalized anxiety (18%) was observed. Career dissatisfaction (28%) and financial difficulties (64%) were identified. Career dissatisfaction, lower levels of social support and financial difficulties all increased the likelihood of trainers meeting the criteria for at least one of distress, depression or generalized anxiety. The study was the first to highlight prevalence rates of symptoms associated with CMDs among racehorse trainers in Ireland and identify certain risk factors which may increase the likelihood of racehorse trainers meeting the criteria for a CMD. Assessment of risk factors can aid early identification of CMDs among racehorse trainers. Such benefits may include early diagnosis or signposting to professional support. Further research is required in examining other occupational stressors experienced by trainers and the impact these may have on symptoms of CMDs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103423
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mental health
  • Prevalence
  • Racehorse trainer


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