Estimated prevalence of anabolic steroid use among male high school seniors

W. E. Buckley, C. E. Yesalis 3rd, K. E. Friedl, W. A. Anderson, A. L. Streit and J. E. Wright
Department of Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802.

The use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AS) is perceived by the media, by segments of the sports medicine and athletic communities, and by the public to have grown to epidemic proportions. Unfortunately, the incidence and prevalence of AS use among elite, amateur, and recreational athletes is poorly documented. This study was designed to help identify AS use patterns among the male portion of the general adolescent population. The overall participation rate on a schoolwide basis was 68.7% and on an individual basis reached 50.3%. Participants in this investigation were 12th-grade male students (N = 3403) in 46 private and public high schools across the nation who completed a questionnaire that established current or previous use of AS as well as user and nonuser characteristics. Results indicate that 6.6% of 12th grade male students use or have used AS and that over two thirds of the user group initiated use when they were 16 years of age or younger. Approximately 21% of users reported that a health professional was their primary source. The evidence indicates that educational intervention strategies should begin as early as junior high school; the intervention should not be directed only toward those individuals who participate in school-based athletics.

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