Substance Use & Misuse

Publication date: 2015-01
Volume: 50 Pages: 275 - 282
ISSN: 1082-6084, 1532-2491 PMID: 25438029
DOI: 10.3109/10826084.2014.952446
Publisher: Marcel Dekker


Ponnet, Koen
Wouters, E ; Walrave, Michel ; Heirman, Wannes ; Van Hal, G


Science & Technology, Social Sciences, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Substance Abuse, Psychiatry, Psychology, college students, stimulant medication abuse, non-medical prescription drug use, intention to use stimulants, academic performance enhancement, COLLEGE-STUDENTS, PRESCRIPTION STIMULANTS, NONMEDICAL USE, PLANNED BEHAVIOR, DRUG-USE, MEDICATION USE, MISUSE, UNIVERSITY, METHYLPHENIDATE, MOTIVES, Adult, Alcoholism, Attitude, Belgium, Central Nervous System Stimulants, Health Surveys, Humans, Intention, Performance-Enhancing Substances, Stress, Psychological, Students, Substance-Related Disorders, Universities, Young Adult, 1117 Public Health and Health Services, 1701 Psychology


BACKGROUND: The non-medical use of stimulants for academic performance enhancement is becoming a more common practice among college and university students. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to gain a better understanding of students' intention to use stimulant medication for the purpose of enhancing their academic performance. Based on an extended model of Ajzen's theory of planned behavior, we examined the predictive value of attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioral control, psychological distress, procrastination, substance use, and alcohol use on students' intention to use stimulants to improve their academic performance. METHODS: The sample consisted of 3,589 Flemish university and college students (mean age: 21.59, SD: 4.09), who participated anonymously in an online survey conducted in March and April 2013. Structural equation modeling was used to investigate the relationships among the study variables. RESULTS: Our results indicate that subjective norm is the strongest predictor of students' intention to use stimulant medication, followed by attitude and perceived behavioral control. To a lesser extent, procrastinating tendencies, psychological distress, and substance abuse contribute to students' intention. Conclusions/ Importance: Based on these findings, we provide several recommendations on how to curtail students' intention to use stimulant medication for the purpose of improving their academic performance. In addition, we urge researchers to identify other psychological variables that might be related to students' intention.