Help-Seeking Beliefs Among Anabolic Androgenic Steroid Users Experiencing Side Effects: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis

Hugh Gilmore, Stephen Shannon, Gerard Leavey, Martin Dempster, Shane Gallagher, Gavin Breslin

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Abstract

Recreational athletes comprise the most prevalent population using illegal Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS). Despite regulatory efforts substances are widely accessible, and most users report the experience of harmful side effects. It remains unclear why few users seek professional medical help. The aim was to determine AAS users experience of side effects and help-seeking beliefs using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of six interviews. Results showed that AAS users discredit medical professionals’ competencies, and practice cognitive dissonance by avoiding challenging situations. A microculture for information-sharing has developed among AAS users who initially self-treat to counteract side effects, leaving them vulnerable to further harm. To conclude, there is an urgent need for educational interventions that outline the risky practice of unregulated AAS use and self-treatments, and the need to seek professional help. Such interventions could be developed through a co-production basis, and be implemented by former AAS users alongside the medical community.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Sport Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • cognitive beliefs
  • harm minimisation
  • cognitive dissonance
  • optimism bias
  • gym clients
  • athletes

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