Steroid use for aesthetic body change – Contextual analysis of a pro-steroid forum and the role of anonymity in online forums
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A large body of research has shown a growing interest in recreational use of body image altering drugs, such as androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS) and image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDS). Though attention for the abuse of anabolic steroids is normally focused on athletes and professional bodybuilders, the public are more interested in enhancing their body image than ever before. To achieve this, strict diets with similarities to those of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are followed. Furthermore, the use of anabolic steroids is a taboo subject and illegal in most countries, so the public turn to the internet to discuss how to safely use potentially dangerous drugs altering their biochemistry. This study hoped to gain an insight to these discussions through the medium of online steroid discussion forums. A mixed methods design was used in two phases. A survey was distributed online for phase 1 to determine the most popular forums for the discussion of forums. A content analysis was carried out in phase 2 on the most popular forum as identified by phase 1. Biochemistry was the most popular theme with an appearance in 18.1% (N=157) of the thread posts. Following this themes included were; information 15.8% (N=137), Anecdotes 15.1% (N=131), advice 12.6% (N=103) and questions 11.4% (N=99). A main theme of “plausibility” was selected to encompass all themes. Research suggests people choose to follow advice available in online forums due to the plausible nature of the information, and apparent experience people appear to have through sharing complex information in a nonchalant manner.
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