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Unveiling the shadows - Substance use among para-athletes: A qualitative study with Swiss elite para-athletes


Lardi, Michele; Kiselev, Nikolai; Imboden, Christian; Stoffel, Olivia; Heiniger, Andreas; Schaub, Michael P (2024). Unveiling the shadows - Substance use among para-athletes: A qualitative study with Swiss elite para-athletes. Current Issues in Sport Science, 9(2):015.

Abstract

Background
Despite the growth of para-sport, little research has been conducted on psychotropic substance use among Swiss elite para-athletes (McDuff et al., 2019; Rice et al., 2016; Weber et al., 2022). This study is among the first to explore this under-researched area, focusing on athletes’ perceptions and mental health concerns related to substance use.
Methodology
Adopting a qualitative research design, this study conducted semi-structured interviews with fifteen (N = 15) active Swiss adult elite para-athletes from nine different summer and winter sports. Thematic analysis was employed to interpret the interview data, focusing on athletes' perceptions and experiences related to substance use (Guest et al., 2012).
Findings
On the one hand, an increase in athletic level and professionalisation seem to leave little room for the use of substances that could be detrimental to athletic performance. On the other hand, the results suggest that stress, negative emotions, physical pain, and a background of substance use may be positively associated with substance use in elite para-athletes (Lardi et al., in preparation).
Conclusion
The findings suggest a need for targeted interventions and support systems within athletic federations. Proposed measures include the development of comprehensive prevention strategies, regulatory frameworks, and treatment programs tailored to the unique needs of para-athletes. This study contributes valuable insights into substance use among Swiss elite para-athletes, advocating for specialized interventions to support athlete well-being.
References
Guest, G., MacQueen, K., & Namey, E. (2012). Applied Thematic Analysis. SAGE. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781483384436
Lardi, M., Kiselev, N., Imboden, C., Stoffel, O., Heiniger, A., & Schaub, M. (in preparation). Unveiling the shadows - Substance use among para-athletes: A qualitative study with Swiss elite para-athletes.
McDuff, D., Stull, T., Castaldelli-Maia, J. M., Hitchcock, M. E., Hainline, B., & Reardon, C. L. (2019). Recreational and ergogenic substance use and substance use disorders in elite athletes: A narrative review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53(12), 754-760. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2019-100669
Rice, S. M., Purcell, R., De Silva, S., Mawren, D., McGorry, P. D., & Parker, A. G. (2016). The mental health of elite athletes: A narrative systematic review. Sports Medicine, 46, 1333-1353. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0492-2
Weber, K., Patterson, L. B., & Blank, C. (2022). Doping in disabled elite sport: Perceptions, knowledge and opinions from the perspective of German and UK coaches. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 62, Article 102233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2022.102233

Abstract

Background
Despite the growth of para-sport, little research has been conducted on psychotropic substance use among Swiss elite para-athletes (McDuff et al., 2019; Rice et al., 2016; Weber et al., 2022). This study is among the first to explore this under-researched area, focusing on athletes’ perceptions and mental health concerns related to substance use.
Methodology
Adopting a qualitative research design, this study conducted semi-structured interviews with fifteen (N = 15) active Swiss adult elite para-athletes from nine different summer and winter sports. Thematic analysis was employed to interpret the interview data, focusing on athletes' perceptions and experiences related to substance use (Guest et al., 2012).
Findings
On the one hand, an increase in athletic level and professionalisation seem to leave little room for the use of substances that could be detrimental to athletic performance. On the other hand, the results suggest that stress, negative emotions, physical pain, and a background of substance use may be positively associated with substance use in elite para-athletes (Lardi et al., in preparation).
Conclusion
The findings suggest a need for targeted interventions and support systems within athletic federations. Proposed measures include the development of comprehensive prevention strategies, regulatory frameworks, and treatment programs tailored to the unique needs of para-athletes. This study contributes valuable insights into substance use among Swiss elite para-athletes, advocating for specialized interventions to support athlete well-being.
References
Guest, G., MacQueen, K., & Namey, E. (2012). Applied Thematic Analysis. SAGE. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781483384436
Lardi, M., Kiselev, N., Imboden, C., Stoffel, O., Heiniger, A., & Schaub, M. (in preparation). Unveiling the shadows - Substance use among para-athletes: A qualitative study with Swiss elite para-athletes.
McDuff, D., Stull, T., Castaldelli-Maia, J. M., Hitchcock, M. E., Hainline, B., & Reardon, C. L. (2019). Recreational and ergogenic substance use and substance use disorders in elite athletes: A narrative review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53(12), 754-760. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2019-100669
Rice, S. M., Purcell, R., De Silva, S., Mawren, D., McGorry, P. D., & Parker, A. G. (2016). The mental health of elite athletes: A narrative systematic review. Sports Medicine, 46, 1333-1353. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0492-2
Weber, K., Patterson, L. B., & Blank, C. (2022). Doping in disabled elite sport: Perceptions, knowledge and opinions from the perspective of German and UK coaches. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 62, Article 102233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2022.102233

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Item Type:Journal Article, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Modeling and Simulation
Language:English
Date:6 February 2024
Deposited On:11 Apr 2024 05:48
Last Modified:11 Apr 2024 05:48
Publisher:Bern Open Publishing
ISSN:2414-6641
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.36950/2024.2ciss015
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)