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n International SportMed Journal - Discrepancy between knowledge and interest of Austrian sports physicians with respect to doping and doping prevention in sports : original research article
Background : Because athletes rely on sports physicians as a source of information, physicians must be included in research relating to doping prevention. According to several studies, the level of knowledge of sports physicians with regard to doping prevention seems to be inadequate. It is crucial for them to have a comprehensive understanding of doping regulations, substances and the side effects, as well as the procedure for issuing Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE).
Research questions : (1) to evaluate the knowledge of Austrian sports physicians regarding doping substances, doping methods and side effects and (2) to provide ideas on efficient strategies to educate this target group.
Methods : An online questionnaire was distributed to all registered Austrian physicians who hold a Supplementary Diploma in Sports Medicine (n = 1,543). The questionnaire was administered over four months and structured into eight areas of interest. Chi-Square tests, as well as descriptive statistics, were used to analyse the data.
Results : A total of 152 physicians returned the questionnaire (response rate of 9.8%). Some 53.7% subjectively believed that they were poorly informed about the topic, and 43% reported that they knew of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 2011 Prohibited List. Knowledge deficits regarding substances (especially insulin, recombinant human erythropoietin, stimulants) and strong uncertainties with regard to prohibited doping methods and the side effects of specific substances were reported. This low level of knowledge stood in contrast to the high interest in the topic that the physicians self-reported. In general, physicians had a very positive anti-doping attitude.
Conclusion : Results of this study are comparable with previous studies conducted in Germany and France. Despite the low response rate, this study demonstrated high interest from sports physicians regarding doping, and showed some of the deficits in their knowledge of doping. Integrating anti-doping related information within educational material may assist increasing the knowledge of sports physicians and gain their support for wider anti-doping strategies.
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