First Advisor

Gary Brodowicz

Date of Publication

Summer 8-4-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Health Studies


Community Health




College athletes -- Drug use -- Research -- Oregon -- Portland, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents -- Research -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 73 pages)


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are a class of medications used in the treatment of pain, inflammation, and illness. These medications are common, affordable, and easy to access. For these reasons, NSAIDs are commonly used by athletes of all backgrounds for treating injuries and as ergogenic aids. However, despite these behaviors, NSAIDs have well-documented side effects and the efficacious nature of these medications has been brought into question. Despite this, many athletes continue to use these medications frequently and indiscriminately. It is not known why athletes use these medications in light of their questionable effectiveness and cited adverse effects. Therefore, this study was designed to (1) further investigate the prevalence of NSAID use in collegiate-level athletes, (2) investigate attitudes and behaviors toward the use of NSAIDs cross-tabulated by sport, gender, and competition level, and (3) investigate athletes' general knowledge of NSAIDs.

Subjects for this study included 79 student-athletes (44 male; 25 female) attending Portland State University (PSU). The majority of the athletes started taking NSAIDs before high school (72% of the males and 64% of the females). Thirty-three percent of males and 32% of females reported that they had been taking NSAIDs within the past week. High in-season use of NSAIDs was reported by 52% of the male athletes and 48% of the female athletes, whereas off-season use was reported by 21% and 12% of the males and females, respectively. Cited reasons for NSAID use both in-season and off-season were relief of pain due to injury, prevention, recovery, soreness, and tightness. In total, 83% of males and 76% of females reported obtaining NSAIDs primarily through means other than health-care professionals. With regard to dosage, athletes reported taking NSAIDs based on product directions, instructions of an athletic trainer or perceived pain levels. An overwhelming majority of athletes (83% male; 76% female) were not aware of any side-effects from taking NSAIDs

In summary, this study revealed a pattern of high NSAID use in athletes competing in-season compared to a high prevalence of low NSAID use in athletes off-season. It also revealed a high prevalence of non-prescription NSAID use. Additionally, there was a high prevalence of self-purchasing of NSAIDs, combined with self-medication and a long history of NSAID use. This study also revealed a general lack of knowledge about NSAIDs.


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