According to a Canadian online survey, college students adjust the level of their adherence to ADHD medication between weekends and weekdays, when academic demands differ.
Fifty-three undergraduate students with ADHD (67.9% female) participated in an online survey, which assessed their day-to-day self-medication during the week compared with at weekends. The questionnaire included questions on whether participants took (or intended to take in future) medication as prescribed on certain days, whether medication was taken in full or in part, or whether medication was missed intentionally. This was related to beliefs about their medication, and their perception of how their important others view adherence to medication. Most students had begun treatment before starting university (60.4%).
Results of the survey indicated that students were more compliant in taking their medication during the week than at weekends, and that this was a planned behaviour rather than due to forgetfulness. The researchers found that beliefs that medication enhanced academic performance and social skills influenced adherence to medication during the week. On the other hand, medication schedules were less well adhered to at the weekend, due to perceived negative side effects and a loss of authentic self when taking medication, which outweighed the positive effects of academic success.
In addition, the researchers found that students believed their important others wanted them to take medication, and that positive encouragement from family members, friends and physicians could positively influence adherence at weekends.
The researchers acknowledged that this was a small-sized sample and results were based on self-reports of adherence. Overall, they surmised that these results indicate that students assess the costs and benefits of taking their ADHD medication, and provide interesting avenues for future research on how young adults with ADHD manage their medication.
Read more about students’ day-to-day adherence to ADHD medication here
Gould ON, Doucette C. Self-management of adherence to prescribed stimulants in college students with ADD/ADHD. J Atten Disord 2016; [Epub ahead of print].