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July 1996

The Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS) Prevention Program: Background and Results of a Model Intervention

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland (Drs Goldberg, Elliot, Clarke, Zoref, and Moe, Mr Green, and Ms Wolf); and Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe (Dr MacKinnon).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150(7):713-721. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170320059010

Objective:  To develop and test a school-based intervention to prevent anabolic androgenic steroid use among high-risk adolescent athletes.

Design:  Nonrandom controlled trial.

Setting:  Two urban high schools.

Participants:  Fifty-six adolescent football players at the experimental school and 24 players at the control school.

Intervention:  Eight weekly, 1-hour classroom sessions delivered by the coach and adolescent team leaders, and eight weight-room sessions delivered by research staff. The intervention addressed sports nutrition and strength training as alternatives to steroid use, drug refusal role play, and antisteroid media campaigns.

Outcome Measures:  A preintervention and postintervention questionnaire that assessed attitudes toward and intent to use steroids and other drugs; knowledge of drug effects; and diet, exercise, and related constructs.

Results:  Compared with controls, experimental subjects were significantly less interested in trying steroids after the intervention, were less likely to want to use them even if their friends used them, were less likely to believe steroid use was a good idea, believed steroids were more dangerous, had better knowledge of alternatives to steroid use, had improved body image, increased their knowledge of diet supplements, and had less belief in these supplements as beneficial.

Conclusions:  Significant beneficial effects were found despite the sample size, suggesting that the effect of the intervention was large. This outcome trial demonstrates an effective anabolic androgenic steroid prevention program for adolescent athletes, and the potential of team-based interventions to enhance adolescents' health.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150:713-721