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Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift

, Volume 162, Issue 11–12, pp 262–271 | Cite as

Cognitive-enhancing substance use at German universities: frequency, reasons and gender differences

  • Stefanie MacheEmail author
  • Patrick Eickenhorst
  • Karin Vitzthum
  • Burghard F. Klapp
  • David A. Groneberg
original article

Summary

Background

The purpose of this study was to give an overview whether German students regularly use stimulants for enhancing their academic performance. Reasons associated with the use of these substances were explored. Moreover, gender differences were analyzed.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey study was performed analyzing a random sample of 1,053 students of different fields of study in Germany. Students were asked to complete an anonymous self-administered web-based survey containing questions on cognitive performance-enhancing substance use. We used statistical analyses, e.g. non-parametric tests to evaluate the data of our questionnaire.

Results

Among 1,053 students, 61 % responded to our questionnaire. The average age wasM = 24.58; 635 participants were female and 418 were male students. Total 1–13 % of the participating students have taken prescription stimulants (e.g. modafinil) or illicit drugs (e.g. cannabis) at least once in their lifetime. The most common reasons for taking stimulants were to support concentration, to relax and to increase alertness. We found significant gender differences with regard to frequency and reason for using performance-enhancing substances.

Conclusions

Our study results give an overview about the actual situation on frequency and reasons for taking performance-enhancing substances. Departments of Public Health should address this issue in national health debates and discussions. Based on our study findings health education programmes should be developed.

Keywords

Cognitive enhancement Drug use Gender differences Stimulants Substance abuse 

Neuro-Enhancement an deutschen Universitäten: Häufigkeit, Ursachen und Geschlechtsunterschiede

Zusammenfassung

Grundlagen

Medikamentöse Interventionen zur Steigerung des Leistungs- und Funktionsniveaus wurden in der letzten Zeit vermehrt in der Öffentlichkeit diskutiert. Generalisierbare, objektive Daten, die Auskunft über die Höhe des tatsächlichen Konsums von leistungssteigernden Mitteln geben, fehlen jedoch bislang. Ziel der vorliegenden Studie ist es daher, die Häufigkeit des Gebrauchs von leistungssteigernden Mitteln unter deutschen Studenten zu untersuchen. Ferner werden Gründe für den Gebrauch und Geschlechtsunterschiede fokussiert.

Methodik

Es wurde eine querschnittliche Online-Fragebogenstudie durchgeführt, in der 1.053 deutsche Studenten Auskunft über die Häufigkeit und Ursachen des Konsums von leistungssteigernden Mitteln geben sollten.

Ergebnisse

61 % der angeschriebenen Studenten beantworteten den Fragebogen. Das Durchschnittsalter war 24 Jahre; 635 Studentinnen und 418 Studenten beantworteten den Fragebogen 1–13 % der Studenten gaben an mindestens einmal in ihrem Leben verschreibungspflichtige Stimulantien (z. B. Modafinil) und/oder illegale Drogen (z. B. Cannabis) zur Leistungssteigerung oder Entspannung genommen zu haben. Die Hauptgründe für die Einnahme waren: Steigerung der Konzentration, Aufmerksamkeit und Entspannung. Es zeigten sich signifikante Geschlechtsunterschiede.

Schlussfolgerungen

Die Studiendaten geben einen Einblick über die aktuelle Situation des Konsums von Substanzen zur Leistungssteigerung und dessen Motivation. Institute der Gesundheitsversorgung sollten diese Situation weiterhin fokussieren und darauf aufbauend Aufklärungs- und Präventionsprogramme für Studenten an deutschen Universitäten entwickeln.

Schlüsselwörter

Drogen Geschlechtsunterschiede Neuro-Enhancement Substanzmissbrauch 

Notes

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefanie Mache
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Patrick Eickenhorst
    • 1
  • Karin Vitzthum
    • 1
    • 3
  • Burghard F. Klapp
    • 2
  • David A. Groneberg
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Occupational MedicineCharité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Free University and Humboldt UniversityBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Medicine/PsychosomaticsCharité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Free University and Humboldt UniversityBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Occupational Medicine, Social Medicine and Environmental MedicineJohann Wolfgang Goethe-UniversityFrankfurt am MainGermany

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