The balancing act : how risk is experienced, navigated and perceived by users of performance enhancing drugs

Ainsworth, Neha Prasad (2020) The balancing act : how risk is experienced, navigated and perceived by users of performance enhancing drugs. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


The current literature concerning performance-enhancing drug (PED) use is often highly medicalised. Limited research exists which delves into the lived experience within the context of PED use, particularly in a risk-oriented context. This thesis uses qualitative methods to explore the experience, perception and navigation of risks associated with PED use in greater detail. The three empirical studies in this thesis are connected via PED use, which is self-identified as functional, but perceived as deviant by society. Study 1 uses Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to highlight the experiences and challenges of AAS use from the perspective of four women, drawing out the impact on their identity. Study 2 is a thematic analysis study of experiences and perceptions of twelve 2,4-dinitrophenol (2,4-DNP) users. This study evidenced strong control over every aspect of using a controversial and polarising compound. The thematic analysis of study 3 highlighted key influential factors that impact the physician-patient interaction and expands on the notion of risk for non-PED using individuals. The results collectively show how the perception and navigation of risks in a PED-use context shape the experiences of risk. These results are explored within a Risk Society Model (RSM). Risk perception is framed through a social-constructionist lens to reflect the highly individualistic nature of risk assessment impacted by sociocultural influences. Risk navigation in PED-use is complex and multifold, heavily dependent on the nature of the risk and the resources available to participants at the time. These studies highlight the importance of understanding lived experiences of risk and hazard management. These results offer a different perspective to those within the current literature and aim to contribute experiential knowledge and understanding upon which coproductive harm reduction interventions can be built.

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