The Illicit Use of Prescription Stimulants on College Campuses: A Theory-Guided Systematic Review

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  • The illicit use of prescription stimulants (IUPS) is a substance use behavior that remains prevalent on college campuses. As theory can guide research and practice, we provide a systematic review of the college-based IUPS epidemiological literature guided by one ecological framework, the Theory of Triadic Influence (TTI). We aim to assess prevalence, elucidate the behavior’s multi-etiological nature, and discuss prevention implications. Peer-reviewed studies were located through key phrase searches (prescription stimulant misuse and college; “prescription stimulant misuse” and “college”; illicit use of prescription stimulants in college; nonmedical prescription stimulant use in college students) in electronic databases (PubMed, PubMed Central, and EBSCO Host) for the period 2000 to 2013. Studies meeting inclusion criteria had their references reviewed for additional eligible literature. Statistically significant correlates of IUPS in the 62 retrieved studies were organized using the three streams of influence and four levels of causation specified in the TTI. Results show the prevalence of IUPS varies across campuses. Additionally, findings suggest the behavior is multifaceted, as correlates were observed within each stream of influence and level of causation specified by the TTI. We conclude that IUPS is prevalent in, but varies across, colleges, and is influenced by intrapersonal and broader social and societal factors. We discuss implications for prevention and directions for future research.
  • Keywords: Systematic review, Health behavior, Prescription stimulants, Behavioral theories, College health
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  • Bavarian, N., Flay, B. R., Ketcham, P. L., & Smit, E. (2015). The Illicit Use of Prescription Stimulants on College Campuses: A Theory-Guided Systematic Review. Health Education & Behavior, 42(6), 719-729. doi:10.1177/1090198115580576
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  • 42
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  • 6
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  • This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors; however, preparation of this article was funded by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Training Grant T32 AA014125.
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