Co-creating a social science research agenda for clean sport : an international Delphi study

Boardley, Ian D., Chandler, Martin, Backhouse, Susan H. and Petróczi, Andrea (2021) Co-creating a social science research agenda for clean sport : an international Delphi study. International Journal of Drug Policy, 92, p. 103161. ISSN (print) 0955-3959


Background Doping in sport is a significant issue. To date, research informing doping prevention has lacked a framework guiding research priorities. To ensure research is coordinated, sustainable and focused on end-user priorities, this study co-created the first research agenda for doping prevention. Methods The Delphi method was used to develop this agenda. Based upon two substantive reviews of the doping literature and 12 focus groups across five countries, a questionnaire was developed assessing the importance of 15 research topics and identifying research questions.  Eighty-two anti-doping stakeholders with relevant expertise were invited to be panel members. In Round 1, an expert panel (n = 57; 70% response rate) completed this questionnaire. In Round 2, panel members (n = 33; 58% response rate) ranked for relative importance the eight topic areas rated highest in Round 1, before doing the same for research questions within each topic. Based on these rankings, a draft agenda was created. In Round 3, panel members (n = 26; 79% response rate) rated the degree to which they accepted this agenda, the feasibility of its delivery and identified possible barriers and facilitators to implementation. Results The results of Round 1 and Round 2 were used to create a draft agenda consisting of 18 research questions stratified across eight topic areas. This agenda was either fully (n = 16) or mostly (n = 9) accepted by the panel in Round 3 (96.2%). Research topics included the effectiveness of interventions/education programmes, environmental influences, long-term development of protective and risk factors in athletes and their entourage, athletes' experiences of anti-doping procedures and athletes’ place in the anti-doping system. Conclusions A rigorous exercise created an agenda for doping prevention research. Adoption and application of this agenda should lead to better coordination, more efficient use of funding, enhanced uptake of research findings and more effective doping prevention education.

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