Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common disorders of youth. As such, the condition is often viewed as only a childhood condition. However, clinicians warn that symptoms of ADHD often continue as youth mature into adulthood.

According to background research for a new study, approximately 2 to 4 percent of college students report significant symptoms of ADHD including difficulty with attention, impulse control, and restlessness.

Although there is a significant research on childhood and adult ADHD and treatments, the effectiveness of medication on college students with ADHD is still unknown.

Accordingly, researchers at the University of Rhode Island and Lehigh University are about to launch a study to test the effectiveness of the stimulant medication Vyvanse™ on college students with ADHD.

It is the first such study for this population.

Lisa Weyandt, an associate professor of psychology at URI and one of the nation’s leading researchers on ADHD in college students, was awarded a grant from Shire Development Inc. to support the study.

Shire, the manufacturer of Vyvanse™, is a global specialty biopharmaceuticals company that focuses on attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, human genetic therapies, and gastrointestinal diseases.

As principal investigator on the grant, Weyandt has subcontracted the study with her co-investigator ADHD expert George DuPaul, professor of school psychology who chairs the Department of Education and Human Services at Lehigh.

“College students with ADHD are at a greater risk for academic and psychological difficulties. They are also in a unique developmental context at this stage of their lives, when they are expected to live and act independently,” says DuPaul.

“Many colleges and universities offer resources to help students with ADHD from a functional standpoint. However, we are the first to look at the impact of medication to treat the symptoms of ADHD.”

The study will begin this fall. Twenty-five students from URI and Lehigh University will be recruited for the five-week study through disability support services offices and advertisements.

Each student will be evaluated during a baseline level (no meds, no placebo), a placebo condition, and during three different levels of medication. The study, designed as a placebo controlled double blind, ensures that neither the student nor the data collector know the level of the drug, if any, the student is taking. Students will receive a $300 honorarium if they complete the study.

The grant will fund the salaries of two graduate students at each institution.

“The study will measure changes in attention and executive functions and social/psychological functioning, as well as perceived changes among the students,” said Weyandt. “Feedback from the students’ professors will also be sought.”

Source: University of Rhode Island