Painkilling drugs in collegiate athletics: knowledge, attitudes, and use of student athletes

J Drug Educ. 2000;30(3):313-24. doi: 10.2190/N1K3-V8BK-90GH-TTHU.


This study was designed to examine the attitudes of student athletes toward the use of painkilling drugs. A total of 563 student athletes at two Division One NCAA universities were surveyed in this study. Twenty-nine percent of the student athletes (n = 165) reported that they felt there is nothing wrong with using painkilling drugs on the day of competition (when injured) to cope with pain. These student athletes reported that they would use painkilling drugs to mask injury in order to continue to participate in their sport. Student athletes' perceptions of societal norms and expectations related to competition, and the degree of control student athletes perceive that they have when deciding to use painkillers, may be important determinants governing the extent to which they may be at risk for abusing these substances. Research on planned behavior and reasoned action against suggests that salient beliefs affect intentions and subsequent behaviors, either through attitudes or subjective norms, or the degree of (perceived) control that an individual feels he/she has over the behavior [1, 2]. This theoretical model was used as a guiding framework for analyzing the attitudes of college athletes toward painkilling drugs. Recommendations are included in this article for coaches, educators, team physicians, team trainers, and administrators who are concerned about controlling the use and abuse of painkilling drugs by student athletes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Analgesics / adverse effects
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Competitive Behavior
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Values
  • Sports / psychology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Universities*


  • Analgesics