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Evaluating the drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use cognitive enhancement drugs: the influence of drug characteristics, social environment, and personal characteristics.

Sattler S, Mehlkop G, Graeff P, Sauer C - Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy (2014)

Bottom Line: We found that 65.3% of the respondents staunchly refused to use CE-drugs.Willingness decreased when there was a high probability of side effects and a high price.The potential severity of side effects, social recommendations about using CE-drugs, risk preferences, and competencies had no measured effects upon willingness.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute for Sociology and Social Psychology, University of Cologne, Greinstrasse 2, 50939 Cologne, Germany. sattler@wiso.uni-koeln.de.

ABSTRACT

Background: The use of cognitive enhancement (CE) by means of pharmaceutical agents has been the subject of intense debate both among scientists and in the media. This study investigates several drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use prescription drugs non-medically for augmenting brain capacity.

Methods: We conducted a web-based study among 2,877 students from randomly selected disciplines at German universities. Using a factorial survey, respondents expressed their willingness to take various hypothetical CE-drugs; the drugs were described by five experimentally varied characteristics and the social environment by three varied characteristics. Personal characteristics and demographic controls were also measured.

Results: We found that 65.3% of the respondents staunchly refused to use CE-drugs. The results of a multivariate negative binomial regression indicated that respondents' willingness to use CE-drugs increased if the potential drugs promised a significant augmentation of mental capacity and a high probability of achieving this augmentation. Willingness decreased when there was a high probability of side effects and a high price. Prevalent CE-drug use among peers increased willingness, whereas a social environment that strongly disapproved of these drugs decreased it. Regarding the respondents' characteristics, pronounced academic procrastination, high cognitive test anxiety, low intrinsic motivation, low internalization of social norms against CE-drug use, and past experiences with CE-drugs increased willingness. The potential severity of side effects, social recommendations about using CE-drugs, risk preferences, and competencies had no measured effects upon willingness.

Conclusions: These findings contribute to understanding factors that influence the willingness to use CE-drugs. They support the assumption of instrumental drug use and may contribute to the development of prevention, policy, and educational strategies.

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Factors influencing the willingness to use CE-drugs.
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Figure 1: Factors influencing the willingness to use CE-drugs.

Mentions: It is essential to obtain insight into the factors that influence the willingness to use CE-drugs in order to develop prevention, policy, and educational strategies[25]. Such strategies may be needed due to the potential social problems related to CE-drug use, such as (a) the social pressure of abstainers to take CE-drugs to keep up with users, (b) the harmful side effects for users, and (c) societal burden upon the health care system. While the current prevalence of CE-drug use is relatively low (see above), several researchers have forecasted an increased consumption of such substances (e.g.,[3,6,69,70]). Therefore, besides only monitoring the development of prevalence rates, it is important to investigate factors influencing the potential use of such drugs. Previous research on the (illicit) use of tobacco, amphetamines, and marijuana, for example, has shown that willingness measures can be used to predict subsequent behavior (e.g.,[71,72]). The use of a willingness measure allowed us to experimentally vary and test the influence of several hypothetical characteristics of CE-drugs and of the social context upon the decision-making process. We were also able to investigate potential future scenarios and their impact on the respondents’ willingness to use CE-drugs, such as a significant amount of performance enhancement with or without side effects. To sum up, our study aims to investigate the influence of personal and contextual factors as well as drug characteristics (see hypotheses below) on students’ willingness to use CE prescription medication without any medical necessity (see Figure 1). Thus, we address some limitations of prior studies (such as small-scale convenience samples or a focus on limited sets of factors).


Evaluating the drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use cognitive enhancement drugs: the influence of drug characteristics, social environment, and personal characteristics.

Sattler S, Mehlkop G, Graeff P, Sauer C - Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy (2014)

Factors influencing the willingness to use CE-drugs.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3928621&req=5

Figure 1: Factors influencing the willingness to use CE-drugs.
Mentions: It is essential to obtain insight into the factors that influence the willingness to use CE-drugs in order to develop prevention, policy, and educational strategies[25]. Such strategies may be needed due to the potential social problems related to CE-drug use, such as (a) the social pressure of abstainers to take CE-drugs to keep up with users, (b) the harmful side effects for users, and (c) societal burden upon the health care system. While the current prevalence of CE-drug use is relatively low (see above), several researchers have forecasted an increased consumption of such substances (e.g.,[3,6,69,70]). Therefore, besides only monitoring the development of prevalence rates, it is important to investigate factors influencing the potential use of such drugs. Previous research on the (illicit) use of tobacco, amphetamines, and marijuana, for example, has shown that willingness measures can be used to predict subsequent behavior (e.g.,[71,72]). The use of a willingness measure allowed us to experimentally vary and test the influence of several hypothetical characteristics of CE-drugs and of the social context upon the decision-making process. We were also able to investigate potential future scenarios and their impact on the respondents’ willingness to use CE-drugs, such as a significant amount of performance enhancement with or without side effects. To sum up, our study aims to investigate the influence of personal and contextual factors as well as drug characteristics (see hypotheses below) on students’ willingness to use CE prescription medication without any medical necessity (see Figure 1). Thus, we address some limitations of prior studies (such as small-scale convenience samples or a focus on limited sets of factors).

Bottom Line: We found that 65.3% of the respondents staunchly refused to use CE-drugs.Willingness decreased when there was a high probability of side effects and a high price.The potential severity of side effects, social recommendations about using CE-drugs, risk preferences, and competencies had no measured effects upon willingness.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute for Sociology and Social Psychology, University of Cologne, Greinstrasse 2, 50939 Cologne, Germany. sattler@wiso.uni-koeln.de.

ABSTRACT

Background: The use of cognitive enhancement (CE) by means of pharmaceutical agents has been the subject of intense debate both among scientists and in the media. This study investigates several drivers of and obstacles to the willingness to use prescription drugs non-medically for augmenting brain capacity.

Methods: We conducted a web-based study among 2,877 students from randomly selected disciplines at German universities. Using a factorial survey, respondents expressed their willingness to take various hypothetical CE-drugs; the drugs were described by five experimentally varied characteristics and the social environment by three varied characteristics. Personal characteristics and demographic controls were also measured.

Results: We found that 65.3% of the respondents staunchly refused to use CE-drugs. The results of a multivariate negative binomial regression indicated that respondents' willingness to use CE-drugs increased if the potential drugs promised a significant augmentation of mental capacity and a high probability of achieving this augmentation. Willingness decreased when there was a high probability of side effects and a high price. Prevalent CE-drug use among peers increased willingness, whereas a social environment that strongly disapproved of these drugs decreased it. Regarding the respondents' characteristics, pronounced academic procrastination, high cognitive test anxiety, low intrinsic motivation, low internalization of social norms against CE-drug use, and past experiences with CE-drugs increased willingness. The potential severity of side effects, social recommendations about using CE-drugs, risk preferences, and competencies had no measured effects upon willingness.

Conclusions: These findings contribute to understanding factors that influence the willingness to use CE-drugs. They support the assumption of instrumental drug use and may contribute to the development of prevention, policy, and educational strategies.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus