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Consumption of anabolic steroids in sport, physical activity and as a drug of abuse: an analysis of the scientific literature and areas of research
  1. V Agulló-Calatayud1,
  2. G González-Alcaide2,
  3. J C Valderrama-Zurián2,
  4. R Aleixandre-Benavent2
  1. 1
    Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
  2. 2
    Documentation Unit, López Piñero Institute of the History of Science and of Documentation, University of Valencia/National Research Council, Valencia, Spain
  1. Mr G González-Alcaide, Instituto de Historia de la Ciencia y Documentación López Piñero. Universitat de València-CSIC, Spain; gregorio.gonzalez{at}


Objective: The consumption of anabolic steroids (AS) has been growing continuously in recent years. It has gone beyond the sports world; AS are now widely used as drugs of abuse in connection with bodybuilding. This study sets out to assess the state of scientific research in the area.

Design: Bibliometrics were employed to evaluate the literature retrieved from the principal relevant bibliographic databases: MEDLINE, SportDiscus, the Science Citation Index Expanded and the Social Sciences Citation Index. The core journals were identified along with the leading authors and research groups and their institutional affiliations. Techniques based on social network analysis were applied in order to build up a concept map of research.

Results: 1325 documents were retrieved. They were produced by 3131 different researchers giving a Collaboration Index of 3.32. The institutions with the most productive authors were Ball State University (Muncie, IN, USA), the École Nationale Vétérinaire de Nantes (ENVN), the Institut Municipal dInvestigació Mèdica (IMIM) (Barcelona, Spain), the Institute of Biochemistry of the German Sport University Cologne (DSHS), Iowa State University, Maastricht University and the University of Iowa.

Conclusions: It was concluded that there has been an upward trend in the number of research projects. The sources used complemented one another, as 78.04% of the documents retrieved were unique to one source. The productivity ranking was headed by sports medicine journals, followed by journals of chemistry, physiology, endocrinology and substance abuse. Besides sporting activities, the most important research clusters were those connected with bodybuilding and with youth groups.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.