This study was conducted in order to evaluate prospective health care professionals' (HCPs) awareness and attitudes regarding new psychoactive substances (NPSs) in the context of their future role in the prevention and treatment of NPS overdose and addiction. Correlates of NPS perception and use were also examined. This cross-sectional survey was performed on 490 students of the Faculty of Medicine, Novi Sad, Serbia, during 2017. NPS awareness was better in pharmacy students (IRR: 1.926, CI: 1.173-3.163, p = 0.010) than in medicine students-pharmacy students recognized 92.6% more NPS names than their peers studying medicine. Female students knew 36.5% less NPS names than their male colleagues (IRR: 0.635, CI: 0.399-1.013, p = 0.049). Number of NPS names students knew was rising by 15.9% with each age group-the higher the age, the larger the number of NPSs they were aware of (IRR: 1.159, CI: 1.025-1.310, p = 0.018). Students who had used marijuana knew 52.6% more NPS names than those who had never had experience with cannabis (IRR: 1.526, CI: 0.953-2.445, p = 0.049). Although a high number of future HCPs claimed to know what NPSs are, numerous misconceptions were noticed. Further educational efforts are necessary to improve their awareness and attitudes regarding NPSs.
Keywords: attitudes; awareness; health care professionals; new psychoactive substances; students.