Objective: To determine the prevalence and pattern of creatine use among varsity athletes at a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletic program.
Design: Anonymous descriptive survey.
Participants: Collegiate varsity and junior varsity athletes.
Main outcome measures: Self-reports of creatine use, including pattern of use and dose, source of information on creatine, and expected and perceived effects from creatine use.
Results: Surveys were obtained from 93% of 806 eligible athletes. Overall, 68% of athletes had heard of creatine and 28% reported using it. Forty-eight percent of men reported having used creatine as compared with 4% of women. With two exceptions, all men's teams had at least 30% of athletes who reported a history of creatine use. Of athletes that had used creatine, about one-third had first used it in high school. Friends and teammates were the most common sources of creatine information. Increased strength and muscle size were the most common effects the athletes expected and perceived from creatine use.
Conclusion: In this population of collegiate athletes, creatine use was widespread among men but was minimal among women. Athletes learned about creatine supplementation primarily from their peers, and substantial numbers began to take creatine while still in high school. Most athletes could not report their dosing of creatine. This study reported findings at one location for one academic year. Studies are needed at multiple locations and over time to further delineate creatine use patterns.