Consumption of Psychostimulants by Medical Students at a University in Southern Brazil
Results of a Panel Study
Aims: To analyze the evolution of psychostimulants consumption by medical students of the Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG) during the period of four years.
Methods: This was a panel study conducted with a sample of students from first to fourth year of medical training, enrolled on the institution on the period between 2015 and 2018. The main outcome of this investigation was the use of psychostimulants. We collected information about the consumption of caffeine, methylphenidate, modafinil, piracetam, energetic drinks, amphetamines and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy). The questionnaire was composed by two sections. First, information about socioeconomic and demographic variables, daily habits and quality of life were collected. In the second part, participants were asked about use of stimulant substances, frequency of its use, perceived effects, their motivation for consumption, as well as the beginning of consumption during the course.
Results: Prevalence of use of these substances have increased from 58% to 68% between 2015 and 2018. Proportion of students that had started to use psychostimulants during college increased from 15% to 30% in this period. That proportion increased according to the year of graduation, passing from 25% on the first year to 38% on the fourth year. This result may be attributed mostly to the use of methylphenidate, whose prevalence increased from 21% to 56% during the period of the study.
Conclusions: The consumption of psychostimulants among medical students was high, and the beginning
of its consumption during college has increased over the years. Its use has been perceived as effective by
most users, which may hamper the management of the misuse of these substances.
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