Main Article Content
Aim: The study aimed to investigate the prevalence of the non-medical use of methylphenidate and knowledge of this drug among undergraduate medical students of the University of the Free State.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study. A self-administered, anonymous questionnaire was distributed during lectures to all students in the five year groups of the undergraduate medical programme.
Results: Of the 643 undergraduate medical students, 541 completed the questionnaire (response rate: 84.1%). Approximately 11.0% of surveyed students were using methylphenidate at the time of the study, of which the majority (67.9%) used it for academic purposes and 70.6% received it from a medical health professional. Less than a third of users had been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Methylphenidate users’ median knowledge was greater than non-users, and methylphenidate knowledge increased from first-year and second-year students to third-year to fifth-year students. Median knowledge scores per year group ranged from 52.0% to 60.0%.
Conclusion: Methylphenidate is mainly used for non-medical purposes by medical students. Students generally have a low level of knowledge on methylphenidate. Specific information on methylphenidate should be included in lectures on stress management and study methods during the course of the medical curriculum.