Students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were unprepared to manage
their condition independently when they went away to college, and their grades suffered
as a result, a study of freshmen at a large public university revealed.
Research has shown that an estimated 75% of adolescents with chronic diseases such
as cancer, diabetes and asthma do not take their medications as directed. However,
no studies have looked at medication management among adolescents with ADHD as they
transition to college.
Study authors used questionnaires and in-depth interviews to determine how well 10
college students with ADHD managed their medications and barriers they faced. Participants
were in their second semester, were prescribed oral medication for ADHD and had no
other medical conditions.
Students filled out two surveys, and researchers conducted one- to two-hour interviews.
Transcripts were coded by three trained coders, and the following themes were identified:
Students lacked the skills to manage their medication because their parents refilled
prescriptions, scheduled doctor’s appointments and reminded them to take their medicine
while they lived at home.
Students chose not to take their medicine due to side effects and misconceptions about
ADHD and when medication is necessary.
After seeing their first semester grades, students regretted not taking their medication.
Peers frequently pressured students to share their medication.
Students wanted social support from upperclassmen with ADHD.
The authors provided a checklist in the article that families and clinicians can use
starting when youths are 12-14 years to prepare them to manage their medication. They
also suggested health care providers educate patients on the importance of taking
medication consistently and possible consequences of sharing drugs.