University students use, awareness and prevalence of prescription stimulants in a UK student population and the influence of personality

Pennington, Kyla (2014) University students use, awareness and prevalence of prescription stimulants in a UK student population and the influence of personality. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28 (8). A75-A75. ISSN 0269-8811

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Item Type:Article
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Abstract

Cognitive enhancement though the use of prescription stimulants is thought to be on the rise particularly in certain settings such as university campuses (Ragan et al., 2013, Neuropharmacology, 64, 588-595). However, much of the empirical evidence for this comes from American student populations. This study presents the findings from a pilot study which aimed to investigate the awareness and beliefs concerning cognitive enhancement in a cross-sectional UK student population.
The study reported consisted of 113 students from multiple UK university institutions (mean age 20.72 (SD 2.01); 38M, 75F) studying subjects across arts, science and the social sciences. An online questionnaire, designed using Qualtrics was distributed via social media sites.
It was found that 72 (63.7%) of the population were aware of either Ritalin, Adderall or Modafinil. Of these, 19 (37.9%) had friends who had taken these substances but only 3 (4.2%) had taken them themselves. Those that were most aware of prescription stimulants had significant differences in what they thought these substances were used for in comparison with those who were unaware 2 (2, N=113, p<0.001). There was no significant difference in awareness of the substances due to gender, university type (pre- or post- ’92) or course type. In the whole population, 46% thought that substances which may enhance cognition should be allowed for all students with restrictions. In terms of personality effects, ANOVA analysis found that there were significantly higher extraversion scores in the group that thought cognitive enhancers should be allowed without restrictions (p<0.05). None of the other ‘Big 5’ measures were significantly different between the responses to beliefs about enhancing cognition.
This preliminary study indicates that awareness of prescription stimulants is fairly high but use is relatively low in comparison with some other published studies (i.e. Varsity, 2009 Varsity, 693, 1-5; Holloway & Bennett 2012 Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, 19, 137-144). However, students were found to agree with the use in principle and with restrictions suggesting that if these substances became more readily accessible on University campuses students would not be averse to using them. Future work should further establish the prevalence and awareness of prescription stimulants is in a what ‘restrictions’ students think should be in place for the endorsement of the use of these prescription stimulants to be acceptable and what might influence them to take these substances themselves. This would further investigate the prevalence of prescription stimulant use for cognitive enhancement by student populations and the effect this might have on others.

Additional Information:British Association for Pharmacology, Summer Meeting 20 - 23 July 2014 Cambridge
Keywords:cognitive enhancers, prescription stimulants, personality, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:15469
Deposited On:21 Oct 2014 14:18

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