Sports Medicine

, Volume 44, Issue 11, pp 1603–1624 | Cite as

Personal and Psychosocial Predictors of Doping Use in Physical Activity Settings: A Meta-Analysis

  • Nikos NtoumanisEmail author
  • Johan Y. Y. Ng
  • Vassilis Barkoukis
  • Susan Backhouse
Systematic Review



There is a growing body of empirical evidence on demographic and psychosocial predictors of doping intentions and behaviors utilizing a variety of variables and conceptual models. However, to date there has been no attempt to quantitatively synthesize the available evidence and identify the strongest predictors of doping.


Using meta-analysis, we aimed to (i) determine effect sizes of psychological (e.g. attitudes) and social-contextual factors (e.g. social norms), and demographic (e.g. sex and age) variables on doping intentions and use; (ii) examine variables that moderate such effect sizes; and (iii) test a path analysis model, using the meta-analyzed effect sizes, based on variables from the theory of planned behavior (TPB).

Data Sources

Articles were identified from online databases, by contacting experts in the field, and searching the World Anti-Doping Agency website.

Study Eligibility Criteria and Participants

Studies that measured doping behaviors and/or doping intentions, and at least one other demographic, psychological, or social-contextual variable were included. We identified 63 independent datasets.

Study Appraisal and Synthesis Method

Study information was extracted by using predefined data fields and taking into account study quality indicators. A random effects meta-analysis was carried out, correcting for sampling and measurement error, and identifying moderator variables. Path analysis was conducted on a subset of studies that utilized the TPB.


Use of legal supplements, perceived social norms, and positive attitudes towards doping were the strongest positive correlates of doping intentions and behaviors. In contrast, morality and self-efficacy to refrain from doping had the strongest negative association with doping intentions and behaviors. Furthermore, path analysis suggested that attitudes, perceived norms, and self-efficacy to refrain from doping predicted intentions to dope and, indirectly, doping behaviors.


Various meta-analyzed effect sizes were based on a small number of studies, which were correlational in nature. This is a limitation of the extant literature.


This review identifies a number of important correlates of doping intention and behavior, many of which were measured via self-reports and were drawn from an extended TPB framework. Future research might benefit from embracing other conceptual models of doping behavior and adopting experimental methodologies that will test some of the identified correlates in an effort to develop targeted anti-doping policies and programs.


Standardize Root Mean Square Residual Moral Disengagement Autonomous Motivation Descriptive Norm Competitive Athlete 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank the World Anti-Doping Agency for funding this project. The funders did not influence this review in any way. Nikos Ntoumanis, Johan Y.Y. Ng, Vassilis Barkoukis, and Susan Backhouse have no potential conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review. We would also like to thank the following authors and their team (in alphabetical order) for providing the necessary statistical information needed for our meta-analysis: F. Al-Maskari, D. Chan, T. Dodge, E. Donahue, M. Dunn, H. Gabriel, D. Gucciardi, G. Kanayama, F. Lucidi, R. Lugo, K. Miller, A. Moran, S. Nilsson, F. Papadopoulos, A. Petróczi, H. Pope, K. Wiefferink, A. Zelli.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 51 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOC 142 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOC 196 kb)
40279_2014_240_MOESM4_ESM.doc (54 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (DOC 55 kb)
40279_2014_240_MOESM5_ESM.doc (188 kb)
Supplementary material 5 (DOC 188 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikos Ntoumanis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johan Y. Y. Ng
    • 2
  • Vassilis Barkoukis
    • 3
  • Susan Backhouse
    • 4
  1. 1.Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine Research Group, School of Psychology and Speech PathologyCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Sports Science and Physical Education Faculty of EducationThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  3. 3.Department of Physical Education and Sport SciencesAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  4. 4.Institute of Sport, Physical Activity and LeisureLeeds Metropolitan UniversityLeedsUK

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