Psychosocial factors facilitating use of performance and cognitive enhancing drugs in sport and education

Heyes, Andrew Robert ORCID: 0000-0002-4045-3499 (2022). Psychosocial factors facilitating use of performance and cognitive enhancing drugs in sport and education. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

Text - Redacted Version
Available under License All rights reserved.

Download (3MB) | Preview


Identifying psychosocial factors that may influence illicit performance enhancement is important given societal concerns such as health, legality, and fairness. Two areas of concern are performance enhancing drug (PED) use in sport and cognitive enhancement (CE) in education. Grounded in Bandura’s (1991) social cognitive theory of theory of moral thought and action this thesis aimed to investigate psychosocial factors facilitating use of performance and cognitive enhancing drugs in sport and education. Study 1, a scoping review of 30 studies, was conducted to assess the research related to potential rationalisation and justification as well as motivations and attitudes towards CE. Study 2 qualitatively explored whether student users (\(n\) = 9, \(n_{female}\) = 1, \(n_{male}\) = 8) of CE evidenced moral disengagement (MD) when explaining their reasons for CE. Deductive analyses revealed the use of six MD mechanisms and through application of Bandura’s (1991) theory, the investigation demonstrated how students may use MD to rationalise and justify their off-label use of stimulant drugs to support their academic studies. Study 3 sought to add to our understanding of the prevalence of both PED and CE use in the UK, by estimating the 12-month prevalence using indirect questioning methods to assess doping PED and CE. Student-athletes (\(n\) = 732; \(M_{age}\) = 20.08 ± 1.56 years; 55% female) from UK universities completed a questionnaire containing UQM and SSC measures of PED and CED use, counterbalanced for order. Direct questioning of PED and CED use was also assessed. For PED use, 12-month prevalence estimates were 14.02% (11.60-16.45) and 7.83% (0.00-16.54), respectively, using the UQM and SSC; direct questioning lifetime prevalence was 2.77% (1.57-3.96%). For CED use, 12-month prevalence estimates were 16.26% (13.78-18.73) and 7.00% (0.00-15.55), respectively, for UQM and SSC; direct questioning lifetime prevalence was 5.10%. The non-trivial prevalence estimates for PED and CED use in student-athletes within the UK should raise concerns for – and encourage action from – policymakers in universities and sport governance. There was no significant difference between the use of the UQM and SSC technique though both appeared more appropriate for investigating PED and CED use than direct questioning. Study 4 utilised a latent profile analysis of student-athletes to provide an exploratory analysis via a person-centred approach to identify and characterise risk profiles for PED and CE drug use in student-athletes based on measures of doping MD, doping self-regulatory efficacy (SRE), empathy, anticipated guilt and self-reported doping.
732 (\(n_{female}\) = 400; \(n_{male}\) = 332) student-athlete participants were recruited with each participant completing a questionnaire assessing the aforementioned variables. The study identified a three-profile model: The Reduced Risk (0.47), The Protected (0.44), and The At Risk (0.10). The Protected profile combined high levels of doping self-regulatory efficacy and empathy with low doping MD and was significantly more likely to have higher levels of anticipated guilt and reduced reported doping in both contexts. The At Risk profile displayed lower levels of doping self-regulatory efficacy and empathy combined with higher levels of doping MD and were more likely to have lower levels of anticipated guilt and increased levels of reported doping. Finally, Study 5 consisted of a review of UK university institution policies relating to academic misconduct and drug policies was conducted to assess if and how universities regulated CE in education. All 174 registered bodies representing higher learning institutions in the United Kingdom were examined and not a single one considered or included CE as part of academic misconduct. The findings of the current thesis demonstrate that not only is PED and CE drug use in UK universities of some concern, but students also evidence the mechanism of MD when rationalising the use of CE and certain psychosocial risk profiles may influence the engagement in such doping behaviours. A greater understanding of psychosocial factors that facilitate such behaviour may be potentially useful in the development of prevention interventions while there are interesting considerations for policy in both contexts.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
L Education > L Education (General)


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year