Predictors of the Use of Performance-Enhancing Substances by Young Athletes

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Objectives:To document the use of performance-enhancing substances (PES) by young athletes and to identify associated factors.Design:Retrospective survey.Setting:Self-reported anonymous questionnaire.Participants:Three thousand five hundred seventy-three athletes (mean age, 15.5 years) from Quebec provincial teams run by organizations recognized by the Government of Quebec.Interventions:All subjects filled out a validated questionnaire on factors associated with the use of and the intention to use PES.Main Outcome Measures:The use of and intention to use PES.Results:In the 12 months before filling out the questionnaire, 25.8% of respondents admitted having attempted to improve their athletic performance by using 1 or more of 15 substances that were entirely prohibited or restricted by the International Olympic Committee. Multiple regression analyses showed that behavioral intention (β = 0.34) was the main predictor of athletes' use of PES. Attitude (β = 0.09), subjective norm (β = 0.13), perceived facilitating factors (β = 0.40), perceived moral obligation (β = −0.18), and pressure from the athlete's entourage to gain weight (β = 0.10) were positively associated with athletes' behavioral intention to use PES.Conclusions:This study provides evidence that supports the predicting value of the theory of planned behavior. Results suggest that the athlete's psychosocial environment has a significant impact on the decision to use PES and support the need to integrate this factor into the development and implementation of prevention interventions.

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