Prevalence and pattern of performance-enhancing drugs use in a sample of British medical students

Ridgway, Alex, Haq, Inam and Memon, Anjum (2015) Prevalence and pattern of performance-enhancing drugs use in a sample of British medical students. In: 8th European Public Health Conference, 14 - 17 October 2015, MiCo - Milano Congressi, Piazzale Carlo Magno, Milan, Italy.

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Background: Non-medical use of prescription drugs and stimulants for academic performance (i.e. neuroenhancement) is widespread among university students. Little is known about the use among medical students, who relatively have greater knowledge of, and access to, these substances. Methods: We conducted an anonymous online cross-sectional survey to ascertain the prevalence, pattern and demographic correlates of neuroenhancing drugs use in a sample (n = 289) of British medical students. Results: The lifetime prevalence of neuroenhancing drug use in this sample of medical students was about 14% (40/289); the last-12month and 30day prevalence was 9% and 3%, respectively. Of the 40 students who had used either one or more of these drugs, 16 (40%) had used beta blockers, 12 (30%) Modafinil, 9 (23%) benzodiazepines/sedatives and 7 (18%) had used Ritalin to enhance their academic performance. All these substances were used for exam preparation and/or during written/practical exams. Ritalin and Modafinil were commonly acquired over the Internet or from colleagues. Students typically only used one neuroenhancing substance, and use of a particular substance appeared to cluster within friendship groups. Students also used ‘soft-enhancers,’ including coffee, caffeine tablets, energy drinks and herbal sedatives. Lifetime use of neuroenhancing drugs was significantly associated with lifetime use of other (recreational) substances (i.e. alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, magic mushroom, amphetamine and LSD). Conclusions: This study, which is probably the first to ascertain the use of neuroenhancing drugs among British medical students, suggests a relatively lower prevalence and frequency of use compared to that reported among students in North America. Use of these substances could affect the health and wellbeing of students and impact their future prescribing patterns and attitudes. Key messages: Compared with other Western countries, British medical students probably have a lower prevalence of neuroenhancing drugs use. Medical students need to be educated about effects and impact of substance use on their health and wellbeing, clinical practice and fitness to practice.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Primary Care and Public Health
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
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Depositing User: Jane Hale
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2015 12:19
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2015 12:19
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