Determinants of physicians' prescribing behaviour of methylphenidate for cognitive enhancement
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Psychology, health and medicine. - Abingdon
, p. 286-295
University of Antwerp
The non-medical use of methylphenidate for cognitive enhancement becomes a more and more common practice among college and university students. Although physicians are a source of access, little is known about the underlying mechanisms that might lead to physicians' intention and behaviour of prescribing methylphenidate to improve students' academic performance. Applying Ajzen's theory of planned behaviour (TPB), we tested whether attitudes, subjective norms (controllability and self-efficacy) and perceived behavioural control predicted the intention and the prescribing behaviour of physicians. Participants were 130 physicians (62.3% males). Structural equation modelling was used to test the ability of TPB to predict physicians' behaviour. Overall, the present study provides support for the TPB in predicting physicians' prescribing behaviour of methylphenidate for cognitive enhancement. Subjective norms, followed by attitudes, are the strongest predictors of physicians' intention to prescribe methylphenidate. To a lesser extent, controllability predicts the intention of physicians, and self-efficacy predicts the self-reported behaviour. Compared to their male colleagues, female physicians seem to have more negative attitudes towards prescribing methylphenidate for cognitive enhancement, feel less social pressure and perceive more control over their behaviour. Intervention programmes that want to decrease physicians' intention to prescribe methylphenidate for improving academic performance should primarily focus on alleviating the perceived social pressure to prescribe methylphenidate and on converting physician neutral or positive attitudes towards prescribing methylphenidate into negative attitudes.