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Generating evidence on the use of Image and performance enhancing drugs in the UK: Results from a scoping review and expert consultation by the Anabolic Steroid UK network

McVeigh, James and Hearne, Evelyn and Boardley, Ian and Bates, Geoff and Hope, Viv and Ralphs, Robert and Van Hout, Marie Claire (2021) Generating evidence on the use of Image and performance enhancing drugs in the UK: Results from a scoping review and expert consultation by the Anabolic Steroid UK network. Harm Reduction Journal. ISSN 1477-7517 (In Press)

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Abstract

Background The use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) and associated image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs) is now a global phenomenon. There is a need to develop evidence to support the development of interventions to prevent the commencement of use, to minimise the potential harms or to support those in their cessation of use. While the United Kingdom (UK) is no exception to this issue, its public health and legislative response to the phenomenon differs to other countries and requires the examination of research specific to the UK. Therefore, a scoping review has been conducted to examine the recent relevant literature to help inform the development and evaluation of effective interventions to reduce the harmful use of IPEDs. Methods A comprehensive search strategy was developed for multiple bibliographic databases, supported by and iterative citation searching process and complimented by expert input from the Anabolic Steroid UK Network. Research conducted by or UK academics or within the UK were eligible, if published in the previous five years. Results In total 87 eligible outputs were identified, including 26 review articles, 25 qualitative papers and 24 quantitative papers. together with small numbers of clinical studies/case reports (6) and commentaries/correspondence (6). The most common topics of research were public health, treatment and harm reduction (41), followed by studies focusing on epidemiology, sub-groups of people using IPEDs and motivations for use (34). The studies illustrated the diverse populations of people who use a range of enhancement drugs including concomitant psychoactive drug use. A number of papers focused on blood borne viruses and associated issues, while others reported on the uptake of needle and syringe programmes. No effectiveness evaluations related to any aspect of treatment, harm reduction or other intervention were published during study period. Conclusion There is a need for the development of effectiveness evaluations of current interventions and any future service provision for people using image and performance enhancing drugs. While there have been no studies of this nature to date, this review illustrates the rich data that has been gathered through diverse methodologies, that will assist in the development of future effectiveness evaluations.

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