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.