INTRODUCTION: Doping is an important public health problem widespread not only among elite athletes, but also among amateur and recreational athletes and the general population. In Italy the introduction of doping prevention within the Essential Levels of Care (LEA) with the DPCM 12/1/2017 represents a crucial step towards the implementation of education and health promotion interventions. In this context, the Departments of Prevention (DP) of the Local Health Authorities (LHA) have to play a fundamental role, becoming the cultural and operational reference on this issue. As part of the "Doping prevention: development of a permanent educational tool coordinated by the National Health Service Prevention Departments" project, funded by the Italian Ministry of Health, a survey was conducted on the activities carried out by the DP regarding doping prevention and improper use and abuse of drugs and food supplements in sports and physical activities, as a basis for the harmonization of organizational structures and prevention programs and the creation of a collaboration network at a regional and national level. METHODS: A semi-structured questionnaire consisting of 11 questions, prepared on an electronic platform, was sent to the DP of all the Italian LHA. RESULTS: A total of 38 DP out of 131 (29%) completed the questionnaire, with representation from all regions. 42.1% of DP carried out or are still running programs for the prevention of doping, a percentage that decreases to 27% considering the programs for the prevention of misuse and abuse of drugs and food supplements in sports and in physical activities; in less than half of the DP, 37.5% and 41.7%, respectively, dedicated funds have been allocated. The professionals most involved in prevention of doping are the Specialists in Sport Medicine (81.3%) followed by Specialists in Hygiene (43.8%) and Psychologists (37.5%), while Health Care Assistants (50%) are the professionals most involved in the prevention of the improper use of drugs and food supplements, followed by Specialists in Hygiene and Specialists in Sport Medicine (40%). Most of the DP (71.9%) believe that the introduction of programs to prevent and counteract doping in the LEA will have repercussions on their approach against doping. CONCLUSIONS: The survey, although conducted on a limited sample, has provided an important framework relating to programs for the prevention of doping and the misuse and abuse of drugs and food supplements in sports and in the physical activities carried out by DP. A remarkable heterogeneity has been highlighted, both at national and regional level. It is urgent to provide DP with homogeneous and effective organizational models and adequate operational tools, paying particular attention to the training of all the professionals involved. It is also essential to implement permanent monitoring tools.
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