In force

Prevention through education: A review of current international social science literature

Principal investigator
S. Backhouse 
J. McKenna
L. Patterson
United Kingdom
Leeds Beckett University
Year approved
Education and prevention

Project description

This review is the result of WADA’s identification of education and social science research as strategic priorities for developing evidence-based anti-doping education. To complete this commission we set out to identify evidence regarding the efficacy of prevention interventions across four social domains; bullying, alcohol, tobacco and social drug use. The main purpose of this review is to highlight the factors which have been determined, to date, as the most successful preventive approaches in these respective domains. Broad conclusions are drawn from the literature with a view to recommending ‘recipes of success’ which could be further refined and applied in the design of future anti-doping prevention programmes.


The review process comprised two main stages. Stage one involved an examination and summation of tertiary and secondary level reviews (e.g., reviews of reviews meta-analyses, systematic reviews), published in the scientific literature or by government agencies between 2002 and November 2008. Stage two comprised the execution of a comprehensive search and review of primary studies based on the fact that the studies were (i) experimental or quasi-experimental, (ii) published from 2002 onward and (iii) not included (or excluded) in the reviews of stage one.

Universal, school-based interventions are the most frequently studied prevention approach. This single setting offers the most systematic and efficient way of reaching the greatest number of young people each year. Although these interventions demonstrate immediate impact, their long-term effects are questionable. When school based programmes are integrated into multi-level strategies involving school, family and community approaches, effectiveness is enhanced. However, community-based prevention alone appears to be ineffective in changing the behaviours considered.


Significance for Clean Sport

Based on the findings of research across the four domains, prevention programmes should be:

1) Targeted at young people and adolescents when attitudes and values are being formed.

2) Tailored to fit the target population (e.g., risk factors, developmental).

3) Interactive and emphasising of active participation (e.g., role-plays, discussions).

4) Derived from social influence approaches and focused on developing core life skills (e.g., communication, decision-making, refusal skills) as knowledge dissemination alone is ineffective in changing behaviour.

5) Monitored and delivered with high degrees of fidelity , ensuring that programme implementation is as directed.

6) Delivered by well trained individuals who, demonstrably, deliver the programme with high fidelity.

7) Based on booster sessions delivered over a number of years. This reinforces and builds on intervention messages


Related Publications

Achieving the Olympic ideal: Preventing doping in sport

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