Prevalence of ADHD diagnosis and nonmedical prescription stimulant use in medical students

Acad Psychiatry. 2010 May-Jun;34(3):220-3. doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.34.3.220.


Objective: The authors aimed to determine the prevalence of ADHD diagnosis and the prevalence of nonmedical prescription stimulant use among a sample of medical students.

Methods: An anonymous survey was administered to 388 medical students (84.0% return rate) across all 4 years of education at a public medical college.

Results: Eighteen medical students (5.5%) reported being diagnosed with ADHD and 72.2% of those students were diagnosed after the age of 18. Thirty-three medical students (10.1%) reported using prescription stimulants for nonmedical purposes during their lifetime. The most commonly reported motivation for nonmedical prescription stimulant use was to improve academic performance. There was no significant correlation between an ADHD diagnosis and a history of nonmedical prescription stimulant use (p=0.072).

Conclusion: This survey suggests that medical students appear to be a relatively high-risk population for nonmedical prescription stimulant use.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants