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2019-02-20 - 2019-02-23

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Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the effect of ethnicity on neuropsychological test performance by comparing scores of white and black former NFL athletes on each subtest of the WMS.
Participants and Methods: Data was derived from a de-identified database in South Florida consisting of 63 former NFL white (n=28, 44.4%) and black (n=35, 55.6%) athletes (Mage= 50.38; SD= 11.57). Participants completed the following subtests of the WMS: Logical Memory I and II, Verbal Paired Associates I and II, and Visual Reproduction I and II.
Results: A One-Way ANOVA yielded significant effect between ethnicity and performance on several subtests from the WMS-IV. Black athletes had significantly lower scores compared to white athletes on Logical Memory II: F(1,61) = 4.667, p= .035, Verbal Paired Associates I: F(1,61) = 4.536, p = .037, Verbal Paired Associates: II F(1,61) = 4.677, p = .034, and Visual Reproduction I: F(1,61) = 6.562, p = .013.
Conclusions: Results suggest significant differences exist between white and black athletes on neuropsychological test performance, necessitating the need for proper normative samples for each ethnic group. It is possible the differences found can be explained by the psychometric properties of the assessment and possibility of a non-representative sample for minorities, or simply individual differences. Previous literature has found white individuals to outperform African-Americans on verbal and non-verbal cognitive tasks after controlling for socioeconomic and other demographic variables (Manly & Jacobs, 2002). This highlights the need for future investigators to identify cultural factors and evaluate how ethnicity specifically plays a role on neuropsychological test performance. Notably, differences between ethnic groups can have significant implications when evaluating a sample of former athletes for cognitive impairment, as these results suggest retired NFL minorities may be more impaired compared to retired NFL white athletes.

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