Anti-doping knowledge and educational needs of Finnish pharmacists
Background: International anti-doping activities consist of doping prevention, harm reduction, and health promotion. The aim of this study was to assess: 1) What is the pharmacists’ self-assessed knowledge about doping and anti-doping activities? 2) How does the pharmacists’ and pharmacy characteristics effect on the self-assessed knowledge about doping and anti-doping activities? 3) What educational needs do the pharmacists report about doping and anti-doping activities?
Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was conducted among Finnish pharmacists in 2019. A convenience sampling method was used to reach the target group. The survey consisted of 26 questions considering pharmacists’ perceptions about doping, knowledge, and need for education about the pharmacology of doping agents, anti-doping counselling, and information sources. Descriptive statistics and cross-tabulation with Pearson's χ2 and the Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to analyse the data.
Results: A total of 246 pharmacy professionals completed a national online survey targeted at pharmacists in Finland. The average age of the respondents was 43 years (SD = 10). Pharmacists reported their self-assessed knowledge on anti-doping counselling to be poor or rather poor. They were willing to participate in several anti-doping activities including doping prevention, harm reduction, and promoting clean exercise.
Their highest needs for education were related to nutritional supplements’ doping risks, substances listed as doping agents, their mechanisms of action and purpose of use, and the adverse effects of doping agents and interactions with other medicines.
Conclusion: Pharmacists were willing to participate in anti-doping activities. Many pharmacists perceived their knowledge as insufficient. Anabolic steroid use in recreational sports is rarely discussed in the pharmacy field and calls for addressing the role of pharmacies in harm reduction, including drug withdrawal treatment and needle exchange services.
Universities, anti-doping organisations, and other related actors in the pharmacy and anti-doping field have an important role in providing more educational opportunities to pharmacists.