Objective. To assess the association between the frequency of anabolic steroid use and the frequency of other health risk and problem behaviors among high school students in Massachusetts.
Methods. The 1993 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey was conducted on a random sample of 3054 high school students (49% male; mean age, 16 ± 1.2 years). The frequency of lifetime anabolic steroid use was measured on an ordinal scale from 1 to 6, representing "0" to "40 or more times." Other health risk and problem behaviors measured were sexual behaviors, suicidal behaviors, frequency of not wearing a passenger seat belt, riding a motorcycle, not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle, driving after drinking alcohol, riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol, fighting, and carrying a weapon. The associations between the frequency of anabolic steroid use and other high-risk behaviors were determined using the Spearman correlation coefficient for ordinal data and the Kruskall-Wallis analysis of variance for categorical data. Representative indicators of each risk behavior significantly associated with anabolic steroid use were then analyzed using a stepwise multiple-regression analysis.
Results. The frequency of anabolic steroid use was associated with all of the other high-risk behaviors analyzed. Using multiple-regression analysis, driving after drinking alcohol accounted for 12.5% of the variance of the model. Carrying a gun, the number of sexual partners within the past 3 months, not using a condom during last intercourse, injury in a physical fight requiring medical attention, history of a sexually transmitted disease, not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle, not wearing a passenger seatbelt, and a suicide attempt requiring medical attention accounted for an additional 9.0% of the variance. The full model accounted for greater than 21% of the variation.
Conclusions. The frequency of anabolic steroid use among adolescents is associated with other high-risk behaviors, thus supporting the hypothesis that anabolic steroid use is part of a "risk behavior syndrome" rather than an isolated behavior. This finding emphasizes the need for comprehensive high-risk behavior screening and counseling among teens who use anabolic steroids.