Vakgroep Psychologie, Gezondheid & Technologie

Title: Cognitive enhancement drug use among university students

Additional information

Type of assignment:               BSc. thesis

Internal/external:                    Internal
How many students?             8
Supervision:                           Individually / in (sub)groups

Includes data collection?       Yes

Type of research:                    Quantitative research

Number of ECTS?                 15 ECTS

Research assignment

With various demands (e.g., grades, social life, finances) placed on university students in an increasingly competitive academic environment, cognitive enhancement drug use is becoming an increasing problem among university students (Varga, 2012), especially in the United States (McGabe, Teter, & Boyd, 2005; Teter McCabe, Boyd, & Guthrie, 2003; Teter, McCabe, Cranford, Boyd, & Guthrie, 2005). Although the limited research examining the prevalence of cognitive enhancement drug use among German (Franke, Konrad, Lieb, & Huss, 2012; Mache, Eickenhorst, Vitzthum, Klapp., & Groneberg, 2012) and Dutch samples (Schelle et al., 2015) has found lower rates, students in these countries too seem to be at risk for study-related stress and study-related psychological symptoms (e.g., Mache et al., 2012). Yet, research on Dutch and German populations seems to be in its infancy. Relationships between cognitive enhancement drug use and stress, and other factors such as availability of drugs, motives for drug use, peer influence, and personality characteristics either have not been confirmed consistently (e.g., Schelle et al., 2015) or have not been examined among Dutch and German populations.
In the current research assignment, students will examine the prevalence of cognitive enhancement drug use in relation to study-related stress symptoms. Furthermore, based on the literature, students can expand this research by examining the relationship(s) between cognitive enhancement drug use and other factors of their choice.

Who do we look for?

Students that are:
- interested in the topic of cognitive enhancement drug use
- motivated to conduct a quantitative study
- motivated to collect their own data among the university student population
- motivated to integrate their own topics of interest in the current research assignment

Mirjam Radstaak & Inge Zweers


Franke, A. G., Konrad, A., Lieb, K., Huss, M. (2012). Stimulant and nonstimulant medication in current and future therapy for ADHD. Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr, 80(3),130–140.

Mache, S., Eickenhorst, P., Vitzthum, K., Klapp, B. F., & Groneberg, D. A. (2012). Cognitive-enhancing substance use at German universities: frequency, reasons and gender differences. Wiener Medzinische Wochenschrift, 162, 262-271.

McCabe, S. E., Teter, C. J., Boyd, C. J. (2005). Illicit use of prescription pain medication among college students. Drug Alcohol Depend, 77, 37–47.

Schelle, K. J., Olthof, B. M. J., Reintjes, W., Bundt, C., Gusman-Vermeer, J., & Van Mil, A. C. C. M. (2015). A survey of substance use for cognitive enhancement by university students in the Netherlands. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 9(10), 1-11.

Teter, C. J., McCabe, S. E., Boyd, C. J., Guthrie, S. K. (2003). Illicit methylphenidate use in an undergraduate student sample: prevalence and risk factors. Pharmacotherapy, 23, 609–617.

Teter, C. J., McCabe, S. E., Cranford, J. A., Boyd, C. J., Guthrie, S. K. (2005). Prevalence and motives for illicit use of prescription stimulants in an undergraduate student sample. J Am Coll Health, 53, 253–262.

Varga, M. D. (2012). Adderall abuse on college campuses: A comprehensive literature review. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 9(3), 293-313.