Research interventions by (Hildt, Lieb, & Franke, 2014) and (Munro, Weyandt, Marraccini, & Oster, 2016) evidentially explore the potential of prescription drugs in the systematic cognitive enhancement of the school-going as well as University students. Non-medical utilization of prescription drugs is highly prevalent among the common masses and evidentially explored in the primary care settings (McNeely, Halkitis, Horton, Khan, & Gourevitch, 2014). However, the direct influence of these prescription stimulant drugs on the cognition pattern and associated academic performance of students remains questionable in evidence-based research literature (Arria & DuPont, 2010). Therefore, presented research studies deployed qualitative approaches with the objective of determining the level and frequency of utilization of prescription stimulants by the student community. The studies also explored the influential factors that facilitated the increased administration of cognitive enhancers by the predisposed students in various academic settings. The results of the research interventions revealed numerous factors that motivated the student community for the illicit and non-medical utilization of prescription stimulants for the systematic enhancement of executive functioning, quality of life, academic results as well as self-motivating and coping strategies warranted for improving the overall wellness outcomes.
The authors of the presented research intervention are credentialed with the Philosophy, Psychotherapy and Psychiatry Departments of the University Medical Centre and Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. The authors hold an elevated profile in the domains of human behavior and psychology and accordingly conducted qualitative intervention for determining the causative factors as well as outcomes of the illicit administration of psychostimulant drugs in the student community. Indeed, no conflict of interest is apparently revealed between the authors in any manner as declared by them in their research paper.
The research intervention attempted to evaluate the influence of prescription stimulants on the life experiences, quality of life, cognitive and learning outcomes and academic performance in the university students. The researchers objectively determined the causative factors that evidentially promote the elevated utilization of prescription stimulants in the student community. The study intervention also evaluated the remedial steps requiring configuration for reducing the frequency of inadvertent and irrational utilization of cognitive enhancers by the student groups. The requirement of undertaking this research intervention is justified by the findings in evidence-based literature that reveal the pattern of irrational interaction between the internalized norms of the students and tendency to utilize cognitive enhancers under stressful circumstances (Sattler, Sauer, Mehlkop, & Graeff, 2013). The authors felt the need of exploring the context and influential factors that promote the pattern of this inappropriate tendency among the university students.
Student community influenced with the irrational need of receiving the psychostimulant drugs for academic enhancement
Cognitive enhancers (including the drugs like Methylphenidate and Amphetamines)
Healthy students (not affected with psycho-socio-somatic manifestations)
Students’ perceptions regarding their life-style, mental and cognitive health, academic outcomes, life-skills and coping strategies
Research intervention by (Hildt, Lieb, & Franke, 2014) utilized face-to-face semi-structured interview sessions for evaluating the factors associated with the irrational utilization of prescription drugs by the student community. Qualitative interview intervention is widely utilized by the research community for recording the subjective experiences of the participants in relation to the study question (Jamshed, 2014). Therefore, this approach evidentially matches the requirement of the administered study intervention. The researchers inquired regarding the medication history of the participating subjects as well as the causative-factors that influenced the prevalence of prescription drugs utilization in the student community. The interview sessions attempted to evaluate the subjective experiences of the students after the consisting utilization of cognitive enhancers. These experiences were sequentially recorded and serialized for their systematic analysis. The interview sessions attempted to analyze the context, timing, experience related to cognitive enhancement, academic outcomes, adverse effects and circumstantial constraints experienced by the study subjects after the utilization of prescription stimulants.
The study findings did not advocate the effectiveness of cognitive enhancers in terms of improving the pattern of academic performance in the university students. The findings further revealed the inappropriate thought processes of the evaluated students that eventually motivated them towards the non-medical utilization of prescription stimulants in the community environment. The aspirations including enhancement of memory, quality of life, consumption time and academic performance proved to the be significant attributes that promoted the consumption of cognitive enhancers in the student community. The side effects (of prescription enhancers) recorded by the study findings enhanced the risk of the affected students in terms of acquiring the pattern of cardiomyopathy, myocardial infarction and psychosis (Lakhan & Kirchgessner, 2012).
Strengths and Weaknesses
The strength of the study intervention attributes to the utilization of multidimensional attributes for recording the causative factors and context of prescription drugs utilization by the student community. However, the limitations include the limited sample size, reduced rate of students’ participation as well as their self-selection that could rationally challenge the authenticity of the findings on a wider scale.
The authors of this research intervention are credentialed with the University of Rhode Island and Brown University (Alpert Medical School). The researchers hold reputable positions in the departments of Neuroscience and psychology in these esteemed academic institutions. The authors did not disclose any conflict of interest in the entire research paper and the same was never substantiated through the pattern of selected research methods as well as the associated outcomes.
The preliminary objective of this research intervention attributed to the systematic evaluation of executive functions and associated academic outcomes in the study participants under the influence of non-medical administration of prescription drugs. The study intervention also explored the rationale behind NMUPS (non-medical use of prescription stimulants) in the student community. The findings confirmed the elevated prevalence of NMUPS in students affected with cognitive deficits. The results of the research intervention did not indicate reciprocal relationship between NMUPS and the academic performance enhancement in the participating candidates. The findings of the research intervention appear rationalized and concordant with the evidence-based conventions that consider the outcome expectancies as the significant factors that predominantly influence the prevalence of NMUPS in cognitively deteriorated students (Lookatch, Dunne, & Katz, 2012).
University students affected with cognitive deficits
Mentally healthy university students
Changes in the pattern of executive function of the participating students
The researchers deployed BDEFS (Barkley Deficits in Executive Functioning Scale) scale for evaluating the pattern of executive function and cognitive deficits of the research participants. BDEFS is the standard of choice that requires deployment for evaluating the cognitive functionality of individuals in various age groups (V?lez-Pastrana, et al., 2016). The stimulant survey questionnaire recorded the prevalence as well as self-reported illicit utilization of cognitive enhancers in college students. These questionnaires prove advantageous in terms of evaluating the protective as well as risk factors related to the illicit utilization of prescription stimulants by the student community (Bavarian, Flay, Ketcham, & Smit, 2013).
Two-way ANOVA intervention was deployed in evaluating the pattern of relationship between NMUPS induced cognitive enhancement and academic outcomes in the student community. Indeed, two-way ANOVA intervention is prevalently utilized by the researchers in the context of evaluating the extent and pattern of interaction between various attributes (Kim, 2014).
The study outcomes indicated the elevated prevalence of NMPUS by the participating students. Most of the college students utilized cognitive enhancers with the objective of their academic enhancement. The study findings complied with the hypothesis that advocated the elevated predisposition of cognitively deteriorated students in terms of receiving prescription stimulants in the community environment. The study findings did not prove any relationship between NMUPS and academic enhancement of the study candidates. The study findings supported the evidence-based convention that advocates the elevated prevalence of non-medical utilization of prescription drugs (under the influence of environmental and behavioral factors) by the student community (Messina, et al., 2014).
Strengths and Weaknesses
The limited and disproportionate sample size (deployed by the research professionals) constrained the generalizability of outcomes. However, the objective evaluation of variable student attributes and experiences systematically enhanced the authenticity of the study results.
The greatest barrier to the implementation of evidence-based practice attributes to the lack of statistical expertise in the research professionals (Majid, et al., 2011). Moreover, the elevated consumption of time in conducting semi-structured interviews delays the acquisition of results and associated beneficial outcomes. The absence of appropriate policy conventions for the utilization of evidence in practice also hinders its effective implementation in the clinical/research settings.
PICO framework provides a significant strategy for the systematic configuration of a researchable question. The research study by (Hildt, Lieb, & Franke, 2014) accorded with the PICO elements to a considerable extent (while excluding the weak comparison parameter). However, the pattern of intervention by (Munro, Weyandt, Marraccini, & Oster, 2016) radically followed the PICO format while comparing the cognitive outcomes between mentally healthy and cognitively deteriorated university students.
The evidence-based analysis of the presented research interventions does not acquire any rationale related to the influence of pharmacological academic enhancers on the pattern of mental health and associated academic outcomes. The studies also reveal the elevated prevalence of NMUPS in cognitively deteriorated university students. The findings of both research interventions provide significant cues related to the elevated risk of the student community in terms of developing adverse psycho-socio-somatic outcomes under the influence of non-medical utilization of prescription stimulants. The fear of failure in exams and other social constraints predominately influences the psyche of the university students and motivates them for utilizing cognitive enhancers in the context of improving their academic outcomes. Students continue to receive prescription stimulants with the objective of enhancing their quality of life and increasing their time of drugs consumption. Research professionals require undertaking prospective studies on a wider scale in the context of evaluating the potential of cognitive enhancers in facilitating the academic outcomes. In the absence of evidence and clinical guidance, the student community must avoid the illicit utilization of prescription stimulants for evidentially reducing their predisposition towards acquiring adverse health outcomes across the community environment..
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