Effects of a multidimensional anabolic steroid prevention intervention. The Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) Program

JAMA. 1996 Nov 20;276(19):1555-62.


Objective: To test a team-based, educational intervention designed to reduce adolescent athletes' intent to use anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS).

Design: Randomized prospective trial.

Setting: Thirty-one high school football teams in the Portland, Ore, area.

Participants: Seven hundred two adolescent football players at experimental schools; 804 players at control schools.

Intervention: Seven weekly, 50-minute class sessions were delivered by coaches and student team leaders, addressing AAS effects, sports nutrition and strength-training alternatives to AAS use, drug refusal role play, and anti-AAS media messages. Seven weight-room sessions were taught by research staff. Parents received written information and were invited to a discussion session.

Main outcome measures: Questionnaires before and after intervention and at 9- or 12-month follow-up, assessing AAS use risk factors, knowledge and attitudes concerning AAS, sports nutrition and exercise knowledge and behaviors, and intentions to use AAS.

Results: Compared with controls, experimental subjects at the long-term follow-up had increased understanding of AAS effects, greater belief in personal vulnerability to the adverse consequences of AAS, improved drug refusal skills, less belief in AAS-promoting media messages, increased belief in the team as an information source, improved perception of athletic abilities and strength-training self-efficacy, improved nutrition and exercise behaviors, and reduced intentions to use AAS. Many other beneficial program effects remained significant at the long-term follow-up.

Conclusions: This AAS prevention program enhanced healthy behaviors, reduced factors that encourage AAS use, and lowered intent to use AAS. These changes were sustained over the period of 1 year. Team-based interventions appear to be an effective approach to improve adolescent behaviors and reduce drug use risk factors.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Anabolic Agents*
  • Curriculum
  • Doping in Sports / prevention & control*
  • Football
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Program Development
  • Prospective Studies
  • Schools*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control


  • Anabolic Agents