Polydrug use and drug market intersections within powerlifting cultures in remote South-West England

With the rising use of Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPEDs), research has increasingly pointed to a need for in-depth understanding of users’ consumption behaviours, in order to form effective harm reduction policy. With polydrug use prevalent in IPED-using cultures, both among ‘hardcore’ and non-competitive trainers, it is clear there is a need to understand this use, and its socio-cultural contexts, as well as how drug access and supply occurs within these cultures.

This paper offers an exploration of the motivations and contexts of hardcore powerlifters’ polydrug use, as well as their experiences of IPED and other illicit drug market intersections, through findings drawn from 18 qualitative interviews with participants involved in these lifting cultures and gyms in South-West England, supported by ethnographic fieldwork conducted in nine gyms in the region over a four year period, including five ‘hardcore’ powerlifting and bodybuilding gyms, as well as four commercial gym establishments.

Results first demonstrate how cultural narratives around what is drug ‘use’ versus ‘abuse’ influenced powerlifters’ consumption and perceptions of polydrugs, with a number of illicit drugs and other medicines used by these sportsmen, despite cultural opposition to other drug consumption considered to be harmful, and associated by powerlifters with ‘gym rats’, or YOLO type trainers. This leads into exploration of where powerlifters’ polydrug consumption behaviours present the greatest risk, particularly in relation to the acceptance of benzodiazepine use as a form of ‘steroid accessory drug’ for long periods, as well as the common sharing and use of opioid painkillers to allow continued training through injury, and discussion of where harm reduction policy might therefore be most appropriately targeted for this population.

Findings then turn to an exploration of how polydrug supply occurs within powerlifting culture and gyms, and the intersections between IPED markets and other illicit drug markets perceived to exist in the region. This documents the prevalence of social supply norms of polydrugs following patterns observed for IPEDs in the existing literature, before discussing the extent to which individuals with links to criminal organisations may be ‘pushing out’ culturally-embedded IPED suppliers in the region, and the impacts this is having on risk for IPED buyers. This is followed by further discussion of relevance to policy, and avenues for future research into polydrug use and supply from a harm reduction perspective, as well as the limitations of this study as specific to a remote region of the UK.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Luke Turnock, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences

What Drives the Immigration-Welfare Policy Link? Comparing Germany, France and the United Kingdom

Dr Mike Slaven, Unviersity of Lincoln, College of Social Science

Western European states have increasingly linked immigration and welfare policy. This trend has important implications for European welfare-state trajectories, but accounts of the policy reasoning behind it have diverged. Are policymakers attempting to delimit social citizenship to secure welfare-state legitimacy? Pursuing new, market-oriented welfare-state goals? Symbolically communicating immigration control intentions to voters? Or attempting to instrumentally steer immigration flows? These accounts have rarely been tested empirically against each other. Redressing this, we employ 83 elite interviews in a comparative process-tracing study of policies linking welfare provision and immigration status in Germany, France, and the UK during the 1990s. We find little evidence suggesting welfare-guided policy reasonings. Rather, this policy linkage appears “immigration-guided:” meant to control “unwanted” immigration or resonate symbolically in immigration politics. Differences in exclusions from welfare support for migrants grew from existing national differences in welfare-state design and politicizations of immigration, not from policy intentions, which were largely shared.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Mike Slaven, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences

Sara Casella Colombeau, French Collaborative Institute on Migration

Elisabeth Badenhoop, Max Planck Institute for Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Collaboration of nursing students and academics from six European countries. 

This week saw the launch of a series of workshops focusing on ethical issues in nursing, which build on an existing partnership between participating organisations.

A previous ERASMUS funded project (a student conference) was held in Lincoln in 2019 and focused on the concept of age, exploring topical issues when working with younger people. This conference was very well received, and all partners were keen to continue to build on this now very well-established partnership.

On-line workshops will take place monthly until summer 2021 and (pandemic allowing) may culminate in a final meeting, hosted by the University of Oulu in Finland.

More information can be found on our website which will be further developed as the workshops progress:


Unfamiliar face matching, within-person variability, and multiple-image arrays

Dr Kay Ritchie, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science, School of Psychology

Human unfamiliar face matching is error-prone, but some research suggests matching to multiple-image arrays instead of single images may yield improvements. Here, high or low variability arrays containing one, two, and three images, and a target image from the high and low variability image sets were displayed. Arrays were presented simultaneously or sequentially, and the target image was presented simultaneously with arrays or sequentially after arrays, in three experiments. Benefits from exposure to multiple images of the same person required simultaneous viewing of images and improvements were observed in match trials only. Only sequential viewing of a multiple-image array followed by a high variability target image enhanced overall accuracy across trial types, particularly for high variability arrays. Accuracy was highest when the target image and array items were visually similar. Results show the importance of image similarity, and suggest variability is most helpful when array and target are presented sequentially.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Adam Sandford, University of Guelph-Humber, Psychology Department

Kay Ritchie, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology

Industry perceptions of government interventions: generating an energy efficiency norm

Professor Elizabeth Kirk, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science

The world has been grappling with energy efficiency for decades. Much attention has been focused on how government can encourage energy efficiency, but there has been essentially none on industry perspectives of which government interventions are necessary to encourage these actions to become the norm. We address this gap through a study of industry views as to which government interventions prompt corporate actors to adopt energy efficiency measures across three industries (building and construction, energy/utilities, and hospitality) in Canada and the United Kingdom. Our findings demonstrate that industry responses mirror recent literature on the need for a mixture of policy tools. Where our findings depart from this literature is that we find a strong endorsement of the use of information provided by government and antipathy towards the use of economic instruments to engender new norms of behaviour. This finding is particularly significant given that much of the literature focuses on the benefits of economic instruments in advancing sustainability goals. We also find the express norms found in command and control instruments are, in the views of industry actors, necessary to make a shift from energy efficiency actions being carried out only by leaders within the industry to these actions becoming standard.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Laurel Besco, University of Toronto Mississauga, Department of Geography, Geomatics, and Environment and the Institute for Management and Innovation

Elizabeth Kirk, University of Lincoln, Lincoln Law School

Comparing the effects of outdoor and indoor exercise on student psychological wellbeing  

Poor mental health and increased levels of psychological distress are growing areas of concern for university students who report significantly more negative mental health symptoms compared to age-matched employed individuals. Increased psychological distress may be a result of a difficult transition from dependent living to independence in addition to increased academic, social, and financial pressures. This can ultimately lead to decreased academic performance, increased dropout rates, and a greater likelihood of self-harm. Physical activity is regarded as an effective strategy for reducing negative mental health symptoms such as stress and anxiety, however, very few university students reach the recommended physical activity guidelines (with one study showing rates as low as 5.4%). Green exercise participation, whereby individuals exercise in green or natural spaces, has resulted in decreased stress and anxiety. However limited evidence has been directed to the impact on mental health in university students, despite the low-cost accessibility and potential psychological benefits. Enjoyment and positive affect (feelings of pleasure) are key factors in predicting and promoting physical activity adherence. Prescribing exercise intensity based on affect (e.g., instructing individuals to exercise at an intensity that feels “good” to “very good”) could therefore have subsequent benefits on physical activity participation compared to a self-selected or heart rate based prescription. Therefore, this study investigated potential environmental effects of green and indoor exercise on psychological outcomes in students (n = 18) compared to a control condition, in addition to providing a novel understanding of affect-regulated exercise.

All participants (n = 18) completed three conditions: a 20-minute walk/run outdoors (green exercise condition); a 20-minute walk/run indoors on a laboratory treadmill (indoor exercise condition); and a series of cognitive tasks (control condition). Participants were instructed to exercise at an intensity that felt “good” to “very good”, which was assessed throughout the exercise. Stress and anxiety measures were taken pre- and post-condition, with enjoyment measured post-condition. Stress significantly decreased from pre- to post-condition after both green and indoor exercise with large effect sizes. Enjoyment was also significantly greater in the exercise conditions compared to the control condition, with the enjoyment scores highest in the green exercise condition. A significant Time effect for anxiety was found, indicating pre- to post-condition anxiety reductions. Larger, non-significant reductions in stress and anxiety were found after green exercise compared to indoor exercise. Average affect scores did not significantly vary between green and indoor environments, indicating a successful manipulation of exercise intensity. Furthermore, reductions in stress following affect-regulated exercise were greater than stress reductions after self-selected exercise intensities. In short, the findings suggest that university students who exercise at an intensity that feels good in a short exercise bout (20 minutes) can reduce their levels of stress and anxiety, but that exercising in this way in a green environment could have more benefits for reducing psychological health.

This study was recently presented by Esther Carter at the British Psychological Society Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology Conference  (click here to view). Esther conducted this study as part of her BSc Sport and Exercise Science degree.

Optimising social procurement policy outcomes through cross-sector collaboration in the Australian construction industry

Social procurement policies are an emerging policy instrument being used by governments around the world to leverage infrastructure and construction spending to address intractable social problems in the communities they represent. The relational nature of social procurement policies requires construction firms to develop new collaborative partnerships with organisations from the government, not-for-profit and community sectors. The aim of this paper is to address the paucity of research into the risks and opportunities of entering into these new cross-sector partnerships from the perspectives of the stakeholders involved and how this affects collaborative potential and social value outcomes for intended beneficiaries.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research 

Martin Loosemore, University of Technology, School of the Built Environment
George Denny-Smith, University of New South Wales, Construction and Property Management
Jo Barraket, Swinburne University of Technology, Centre for Social Impact
Robyn KeastSouthern Cross University, School of Business and Tourism
Daniel Chamberlain, La Trobe University, Department of Public Health
Kristy Muir, University of New South Wales, Centre for Social Impact
Abigail Powell,  University of Lincoln, Eleanor Glanville Centre
Dave Higgon, Multiplex
Jo Osborne, DAMAJO

Gambling in COVID-19 Lockdown in the UK: Depression, Stress, and Anxiety

Dr Amanda Roberts, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science, School of Psychology

To combat the spread of COVID-19, the UK Government implemented a range of “lockdown” measures. Lockdown has necessarily changed the gambling habits of gamblers in the UK, and the impact of these measures on the mental health of gamblers is unknown. To understand the impact of lockdown on gamblers, in April 2020, after ~6 weeks of lockdown, participants (N = 1,028, 72% female) completed an online questionnaire. Gambling engagement data was collected for pre-lockdown via the Brief Problem Gambling Screen (BPGS) allowing participants to be classified as Non-Gamblers (NG), Non-Problem Gamblers (NPG) or Potential Problem Gamblers (PPG). The Depression, Stress, and Anxiety Scale (DASS21) was used to measure depression, stress, and anxiety scores both pre- and during-lockdown. Results indicate that depression, stress and anxiety has increased across the whole sample. Participants classified in the PPG group reported higher scores on each sub scale at both baseline and during lockdown. Increases were observed on each DASS21 subscale, for each gambler group, however despite variable significance and effect sizes, the magnitude of increases did not differ between groups. Lockdown has had a significant impact on mental health of participants; whilst depression stress and anxiety remain highest in potential problem gamblers, pre-lockdown gambler status did not affect changes in DASS21 scores.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Steve Sharman, Kings College London, Institute of Psychiatry, National Addiction Centre and University of East London, School of Psychology

Amanda Roberts, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology

Henrietta Bowden-Jones, National Problem Gambling Clinic; University of Cambridge, Department of Psychiatry and University College London, Faculty of Brain Sciences

John Strang, Kings College London, Institute of Psychiatry, National Addiction Centre

Flow in youth sport, physical activity, and physical education: A systematic review

Flow in sport, physical activity, and physical education can have widespread benefits for youth participants. The aim of this study was to systematically review, synthesise, and appraise literature on flow in youth sport, physical activity, and physical education. More specifically, the review explored the: methods used to study flow; conceptualisation of flow; antecedents associated with flow; interventions and mechanisms to facilitate flow states; and outcomes associated with flow. Electronic database and manual searches in September 2020 yielded 2,292 potential papers. Overall, 39 studies with 17,123 youths published over 36 years (1984–2020) satisfied the eligibility criteria and were included in the review. As the first systematic review of flow in physical activity contexts specifically in youth-aged participants, the synthesis identified several issues with the measurement and conceptualisation of flow. While evidence has accumulated on antecedents and outcomes of flow in youth sport, physical activity, and physical education, the reliance on cross-sectional designs prevents the inference of causality. Interventions designed to facilitate more frequent or intense flow experiences have been relatively unsuccessful, thus suggesting that further research is required to explain the occurrence of flow and to develop interventions that reliably induce flow states in youths. Overall, the review highlights a need for higher quality research to make meaningful progress in understanding of the flow experience in youth sport, physical activity, and physical education. Recommendations for future research that could help to advance understanding include: experimental studies; evidence-based flow interventions; and qualitative methods, such as event-focused interviews.

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Trish Jackman, University of Lincoln, School of Sport and Exercise Science

Emily Dargue, Nottingham Trent University, Department of Sport Science

Julie Johnston, Nottingham Trent University, Department of Sport Science

Rebecca Hawkins, University of Lincoln, School of Sport and Exercise Science