A systematic examination of the gain- and loss-framed content of educational resources aimed at preventing doping among adolescent athletes


Doping is a worldwide problem with researchers reporting a prevalence of doping that ranges between 6% and 34% of elite athletes. Primary doping prevention initiatives exist, and their effectiveness may be enhanced with the use of framed messages. Given that abstaining from using performance-enhancing substances is a low risk behavior with relatively certain outcomes, researchers suggest that gain-framed messages might have an advantage in promoting this behaviour; however, the degree to which prevention messages include gain- and loss-framed messages is unknown. The purpose of this study was to systematically identify and evaluate available educational health messages aimed at preventing doping among adolescent athletes to determine the degree to which they include gain- and loss-framed content. We systematically searched the internet through Google, Yahoo, Bing, and specific accredited sport and doping-prevention agencies for doping-prevention resources such as brochures, posters, and videos, in print or online. Our search yielded 60 resources which were reviewed by two separate members of the research team for their loss-framed, gain-framed, and non-framed content. The vast majority of the content (88.40%) was non-framed and the remainder was primarily loss-framed (11.37%). The resources included almost no gain-framed content (0.23%) despite suggestions that gain-framed messages may be effective in this context. Our findings suggest a need to test gain-framed messages as an alternative to the traditional loss-framed doping prevention messages as a means to enhance the efficacy of doping prevention initiatives.