Disagreements with implications: diverging discourses on the ethics of non-medical use of methylphenidate for performance enhancement

Forlini, Cynthia and Racine, Eric (2009) Disagreements with implications: diverging discourses on the ethics of non-medical use of methylphenidate for performance enhancement. BMC Medical Ethics, 10 . doi:10.1186/1472-6939-10-9

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Author Forlini, Cynthia
Racine, Eric
Title Disagreements with implications: diverging discourses on the ethics of non-medical use of methylphenidate for performance enhancement
Journal name BMC Medical Ethics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1472-6939
Publication date 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/1472-6939-10-9
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 10
Total pages 13
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background
There is substantial evidence that methylphenidate (MPH; Ritalin), is being used by healthy university students for non-medical motives such as the improvement of concentration, alertness, and academic performance. The scope and potential consequences of the non-medical use of MPH upon healthcare and society bring about many points of view.

Methods
To gain insight into key ethical and social issues on the non-medical use of MPH, we examined discourses in the print media, bioethics literature, and public health literature.

Results
Our study identified three diverging paradigms with varying perspectives on the nature of performance enhancement. The beneficial effects of MPH on normal cognition were generally portrayed enthusiastically in the print media and bioethics discourses but supported by scant information on associated risks. Overall, we found a variety of perspectives regarding ethical, legal and social issues related to the non-medical use of MPH for performance enhancement and its impact upon social practices and institutions. The exception to this was public health discourse which took a strong stance against the non-medical use of MPH typically viewed as a form of prescription abuse or misuse. Wide-ranging recommendations for prevention of further non-medical use of MPH included legislation and increased public education.

Conclusion
Some positive portrayals of the non-medical use of MPH for performance enhancement in the print media and bioethics discourses could entice further uses. Medicine and society need to prepare for more prevalent non-medical uses of neuropharmaceuticals by fostering better informed public debates.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes Article number 9.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: UQ Centre for Clinical Research Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 18 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 35 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 06 May 2014, 14:25:52 EST by Cynthia Forlini on behalf of UQ Centre for Clinical Research