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Franke, Andreas G.; Lehmberg, Sophie; Soyka, Michael (2016): Pharmacological Neuroenhancement: teachers' knowledge and attitudes-Results from a survey study among teachers in Germany. In: Substance Abuse Treatment Prevention and Policy 11:32


Background: Pharmacological neuroenhancement (PN) is a topic of increasing importance. Its prevalence rates range from 1 % to more than 20 %. Students are a group that shows exceptionally high prevalence rates. However, little is known about teachers' knowledge, management, attitudes and ethical judgements regarding PN. Methods: A web-based survey containing 40 closed questions was developed. All teachers working at all private and public schools in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a state in northeastern Germany, were invited to participate after their respective school offices were contacted by telephone, email and mail. Results: In total, 255 teachers participated in the survey. Of those, 73.3 % had already heard about PN in general, and 68.2 % had heard about PN in students. Their sources of knowledge were digital media such as TV (73.8 %) and the internet (40.6 %) and print media (64.7 %);their own students informed 29.9 % of the teachers about PN in general and 35.6 % of them about PN among students. Furthermore, 34.9 % of the surveyed teachers were convinced that PN substance use was ineffective in general, and 51.8 % of the surveyed teachers believed that PN substances were ineffective in achieving better grades. Only 1.2 % thought that none of the so-called PN substances could lead to addiction, and 37.6 % would classify PN substance use as general drug misuse. The highest values regarding risk of addiction were observed for illicit drugs. The prevalence of PN substance use was evaluated to be very low and to be significantly higher in male, highly skilled and college/university students. In total, 1.6 school lessons per year were used to discuss PN. Finally, 55.7 % of the surveyed teachers believed that performance-enhancing substances should be forbidden at schools. Conclusion: Teachers, as an integral part of the education of children and adolescents, often know about PN substances and mostly refuse their use being afraid about the risk of addiction. However, regarding effects as well as side effects of PN substances, teachers have very different opinions. Furthermore, they seem to underestimate the prevalence among their students and broach the topic infrequently. Teachers should be sensitized for high prevalence rates and should broach the topic of PN more frequently to their students to prevent potential misuse of PN substances.