Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Lisa Weyandt

Abstract

As growing numbers of students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) pursue postsecondary education, the availability of psychostimulant medications on college campuses has steadily increased. Although a large body of research has documented that misuse of prescription stimulant medication is a prevalent problem on American college campuses, few studies have been conducted beyond the United States. Iceland, closely followed by the United States, has the highest stimulant medication prescription rates in the world; however, no systematic efforts have been made to investigate to what extent these medications are being misused within the Icelandic college student population. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to: a) examine the prevalence of prescription stimulant misuse among N=521 college students in Iceland as well as factors that are potentially predictive of stimulant misuse, including ADHD symptomatology, symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, self-reported grade-point average (GPA), and student sex; and b) identify the prevalence of significant ADHD symptomatology within this population. Results revealed the prevalence of lifetime stimulant misuse behavior was approximately 13% within the overall sample, 11% among participants without a prescription for stimulant medication, and 42% among participants holding a prescription. The primary reported reason for misuse was academic enhancement, similar to findings from the United States and Europe. Findings also suggested risk factors for prescription stimulant misuse among college students in Iceland included male sex, anxiety symptoms, and a history of ADHD symptoms. Approximately 8% of participants reported persistent, elevated ADHD symptomatology, while approximately 9% reported a previous diagnosis of ADHD. The present findings have implications for public health policy in Iceland, particularly as it relates to the college population. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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