Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Psychology

First Advisor

Tom Kennedy

Second Advisor

Lisa Lashley

Third Advisor

Barbara Garcia-Lavin


clinical psychology, neuropsychology, psychometrics, retired athletes


This study examined psychometric properties of the NFL Concussion Battery used to examine neuropsychological functioning in retired NFL players who were part of the NFL’s concussion settlement. This battery assesses multiple areas of cognitive functioning; executive functioning, language, processing speed, attention and memory. The study included 117 participants who were male with at least 16 years of education. The sample was 75.9% African-American and average age was 47. All participants completed the entire battery and passed the majority of effort measures. Those that did not pass the majority of effort measures or complete the entire battery were excluded.

T-test analyses were used to test the hypothesis that normative player performance on individual measures within the NFL battery would be poorer than the standardization sample’s performance. Results from the analysis demonstrated that most of the measures yielded significantly lower performance in the retired player sample. An exploratory factor analysis was used to study the factor structure of the NFL battery when used in the retired player population. It was hypothesized that the factor analysis would yield a five-factor structure; executive functioning, language, processing speed, attention and memory. The analysis did not support this, suggesting that a six-factor model may be a better fit for the data with subtests loading onto factors identified as visual spatial manipulation and learning, speeded language fluency, rote verbal learning and memory, contextual verbal learning and memory, abstract reasoning and a Category test factor.

Hypothesis one was largely supported by the study, while hypothesis two was not supported. The results of this study provided novel psychometric information on this NFL battery given that very few studies have been conducted on retired NFL players using a standard neuropsychological battery and no formal psychometric studies have been conducted on this battery. Further examination of psychometrics is needed, especially when looking at ethnicity as a potential moderating factor in performance. Samples should be more diverse and utilize both current and former NFL players to assess performance across the playing lifespan. Future work should utilize a larger sample and provide more specific concussion information to increase clinical utility of the findings.

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