Non-medical use of prescription stimulants by Australian university students: Attitudes, prevalence, and motivations for use

image - University Student Square
Date Commenced:
03/2013
Expected Date of Completion:
Ongoing
Project Supporters:

ARC Discovery Project Grant

Drug Type:
Project Members: 
image - Michael Farrell
Director
Ph EA Tori Barnes: 02 9385 0292 / t.barnes@unsw.edu.au
Project Main Description: 

This project examines the non-medical use of prescription stimulant drugs among Australian university students for cognitive enhancement purposes. It will, for the first time in Australia, comprehensively examine attitudes, prevalence, motivations, and patterns and consequences of use. This study will shed light on whether this is a problematic trend in Australia, and what should be done to protect the health of young people in this regard.

Project Collaborators: External: 

Associate Professor Jayne Lucke
Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Dr Bradley Partridge
Research Development Unit, Caboolture Hospital

Dr Matthew Dunn
School of Health & Social Development, Deakin University

Professor Wayne Hall
Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, University of Queensland

Dr Eric Racine
Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal

Charmaine Jensen
School of Medicine, University of Queensland

Rationale: 

The use of prescription stimulants by university students for cognitive enhancement has been reported to be increasingly prevalent and acceptable in countries such as the United States of America.   By comparison, Australia has very limited knowledge on the non-medical use of prescription stimulants by Australian university students.

Aims: 

This study aims to:

·         Examine Australian university students’ attitudes towards non-medical uses of prescription stimulants for cognitive enhancement purposes.

·         Examine the prevalence of non-medical use of prescription stimulants among university students for cognitive enhancement.

·         Examine students’ motivations for non-medical use of prescription stimulants and patterns and consequences of such use,  and;

·         Provide recommendations about important priorities for Australian research, policy, and practice towards non-medical use of prescription stimulants for cognitive enhancement purposes.

Design and Method: 

This project is a mixed-method design consisting of 3 studies:

The first study involves individual interviews with university students to explore the context of student life and how this may impact students desire to practice cognitive enhancement.

The second study will use the data obtained from the interviews in stage 1 to inform the design of a more comprehensive survey with university students in Australia to identify the attitudes student have towards cognitive enhancement, prevalence, motivations, and patterns and consequences of use.

The third and final study of this project will conduct interviews with cognitive enhancement users  to develop and in-depth understanding of why these users use cognitive enhancement.

Recommendations about important priorities for Australian research, policy, and practice on the non-medical use of prescription stimulants for cognitive enhancement will be provided at the end of this project.

Progress/Update: 

Study 1 is complete and has produced a publication as per Jensen, Forlini and Hall (2016).

Study 2 is complete and publications have been submitted for peer review.

Study 3 data collection is complete and preparation of the findings for publication is underway.

Output: 

Jensen C, Partridge B, Forlini C, Hall W, Lucke J. Cognitive Enhancement Down-Under: An Australian Perspective. In: Jotterand F, Dubljevc V, editors. Cognitive Enhancement: Ethical and Policy Implications in International Perspectives 2016.

Jensen C, Forlini C, Partridge B, Hall W. Australian University Students’ Coping Strategies and Use of Pharmaceutical Stimulants as Cognitive Enhancers. Frontiers in psychology. 2016.

Jensen C, Forlini C and Hall W. Study Habits, Health and Cognitive Enhancement. Cognitive Enhancement: Enhancing Responsibility. Delft (The Netherlands), 13-15 Aug 2014. 

Jensen C and Hall W. Pharmaceutical cognitive enhancement among Australian university students. Society for Mental Health Research. Brisbane (Australia), 2-4 December 2015.

Jensen C and Hall W. The non-medical use of prescription stimulants by Australian university students for cognitive enhancement. Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs. Sydney (Australia), 30 October – 2 November 2016.

Project Research Area: 
Drug Type: 
Project Status: 
Current