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01.12.2014 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

BMC Family Practice 1/2014

Attitudes towards prescribing cognitive enhancers among primary care physicians in Germany

Zeitschrift:
BMC Family Practice > Ausgabe 1/2014
Autoren:
Andreas G Franke, Carolin Papenburg, Elena Schotten, Peter B Reiner, Klaus Lieb
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1471-2296-15-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

All authors declare to have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

AGF, KL and PBR participated in the conception and design of the study. AGF, CP and ES monitored data collection. AGF, KL, CP analysed and checked the data calculation. All authors participated in data interpretation, drafting, and revising the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Abstract

Background

Primary care physicians are gate keepers to the medical system having a key role in giving information and prescribing drugs to their patients. In this respect they are involved in claims of patients/clients for pharmacological Cognitive Enhancement (CE). Therefore, we studied the knowledge of primary care physicians about CE and their attitudes toward prescribing CE drugs to healthy subjects.

Methods

A self-report paper-and-pencil questionnaire and case vignettes describing a hypothetical CE drug were sent out to all 2,753 registered primary care physicians in Rhineland Palatine, Germany. 832, i.e. 30.2% filled in the questionnaire anonymously.

Results

96.0% of all participating physicians had already heard about CE. However, only 5.3% stated to be very familiar with this subject and 43.5% judged themselves as being not familiar with CE. 7.0% had been asked by their clients to prescribe a drug for CE during the last week, 19.0% during the last month, and 40.8% during the last year. The comfort level to prescribe CE drugs was very low and significantly lower than to prescribe sildenafil (Viagra®). Comfort level was mainly affected by the age of the client asking for prescription of CE drugs, followed by the availability of non-pharmacological alternatives, fear of misuse of the prescribed drug by the client and the missing indication of prescribing a drug.

Conclusions

Although a relatively high proportion of primary care physicians have been asked by their clients to prescribe CE drugs, only a small proportion are well informed about the possibilities of CE. Since physicians are gate keepers to the medical system and have a key role regarding a drugs’ prescription, objective information should be made available to physicians about biological, ethical and social consequences of CE use.
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