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Exploring the Relationship Between the Misuse of Stimulant Medications and Academic Dishonesty Among a Sample of College Students

Researchers conducted a study to examine the relationship between misuse of prescription stimulant medications (MPS) and academic dishonesty (AD), two behaviors that often result from a student’s desire to succeed academically. The study was done in order to assess potential differences in the frequency of AD between those who do engage in MPS and those who do not. Undergraduate students from three US colleges completed surveys that assessed prescription stimulant status, MPS, misuse of other prescription medications, energy drink use, and frequency of 7 different forms of AD (n = 974). Of the students surveyed, 18.3% reported MPS during the last 12 months. The results of the study indicated that increased frequency of AD was associated with past-year MPS. Participants were also more likely to report MPS if they misuse prescription painkillers, antidepressants or sedatives, filled at least one prescription for stimulants, consumed at least one energy drink in the last 30 days, reported a lower GPA, and were affiliated with a Greek organization. 65% of the students reported engaging in AD during the past year. Students who indicated past-year misuse of prescription stimulants reported they more frequently copied off of someone else’s homework, allowed others to copy their homework, and used the internet improperly when compared to non-users.

Take away: Further research is needed to explore the relationship between AD and MPS among college students, as well as students’ attitudes and beliefs regarding these behaviors. This study shows that MPS is associated with student’s academic pursuits. College programs aimed at reducing MPS may reduce AD and other behaviors, and vice versa.

Gallucci, A.R., Martin, R.J., Hackman, C., & Hutcheson, A. (2016) Exploring the Relationship Between the Misuse of Stimulant Medications and Academic Dishonesty Among a Sample of College Students.  J Community Health. doi:10.1007/s10900-016-0254-y

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