Over 7.5 million high school students participate in high school sports programs and an additional 2 million students join these athletic teams each year. Adolescent athletes are at risk for using performance enhancing drugs, such as anabolic steroids, unregulated sport supplements, and illicit drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, few evidence-based substance abuse prevention programs are designed for high schools. The ATLAS (Athletes Training &Learning to Avoid Steroids) program for high school male athletes and the ATHENA (Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise &Nutrition Alternatives) program for high school female athletes, studied with National Institute on Drug Abuse support, have established evidence of effectiveness in 1) preventing substance use and 2) enhancing healthy behaviors. The programs are peer taught and facilitated by coaches within the high school sport team. Although the programs have been disseminated to 36 states and approximately 70,000 student-athletes and their coaches, this represents less than 0.25% of the high school athletes participating in sports during the same time frame. A significant barrier to more widespread implementation of ATLAS and ATHENA is the loss of team practice time when implementing the interventions, as there are ten, 45 minute sessions for ATLAS and eight, 45 minute sessions for ATHENA. Also, school sports are extracurricular, often without a budget for curriculum based interventions. To overcome these barriers, Phase I of this STTR proposal will initiate the transfer of ATLAS and ATHENA to an innovative online version. Six activities, (3 ATLAS and 3 ATHENA) will be transferred to a content-rich online versions that can be implemented by students with high fidelity. The new version's feasibility and level of acceptance will be assessed, comparing it with the standard version of the programs with groups of student-athletes and coaches. This will set the stage for Phase II, wherein other activities will be placed online, augmented with student-athlete social networking and training videos for coaches. The influence of the team will continue, but in an abbreviated fashion. The final online version will reduce the time spent by coaching staff by approximately 66%, while intervention costs will be decreased by 75%. This will be appealing to both the school administrators (purchasers of the programs) and coaches (program implementers). Furthermore, program availability will be increased to 24 hours/day, 7 days each week. This technological transfer of evidence-based curricula will overcome impediments to adoption, implementation and sustainability, while retaining the mediators of behavior change, and reducing substance abuse among youth.
The project will initiate transfer the ATLAS and ATHENA programs, scientifically proven to prevent drug and alcohol use and improve health behaviors among high school athletes, to a low-cost, innovative web-based version of the programs. This enhanced, content-rich version will enhance ATLAS and ATHENA's widespread use among high schools at a fraction of the cost, in a highly efficient manner.