The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) recently notified Oregon Health & Science University that it is extending its suspension of the Student Athlete Testing Using Random Notification, or SATURN, study. The study was in its third and final year when the OHRP requested the study be suspended on Oct. 24, 2002.
OHSU is disappointed by the decision of the OHRP, as it believes the corrective action outlined in its response to the OHRP's October letter appropriately addressed the concerns raised by the agency. OHSU continues to contest OHRP's opinion.
The notification from OHRP comes just days after a U.S. District Court judge dismissed nine out of 10 claims in a lawsuit against OHSU and numerous Oregon school districts participating in the study.
The SATURN study sought to evaluate whether the U.S. Supreme Court-upheld public school policy allowing drug testing of student athletes has any effect on student drug use. Since 1995 numerous schools throughout the country have implemented drug-testing policies, but no scientific study has evaluated whether those programs deter student drug use. SATURN is the first study of its kind to determine if random drug testing has any impact on curbing teen drug use.
OHSU is reviewing the OHRP decision and evaluating its next steps. Findings from a similar pilot study found that student athletes at a high school with a mandatory random drug-testing policy reported illicit drug use dropped by fourfold, and performance-enhancing substance use dropped threefold compared with athletes at a control school. The results were published in the January 2003 issue of The Journal of Adolescent Health.