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First-ever controlled pharmacological study of ADHD in college students launched

Lehigh is partnering with the University of Rhode Island to study the effectiveness of the drug Vyvanse on college students with ADHD.

George DuPaul

In an effort to help one of the most under studied groups of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), researchers at Lehigh University and the University of Rhode Island have kicked off the first-ever controlled pharmacological study for treatment of ADHD among college students.

The study is being conducted by George DuPaul, professor of school psychology and chair of the Lehigh’s department of education and human services, and Lisa Weyandt, associate professor of psychology at University of Rhode Island, with funding from Shire Development Inc.

Approximately 2 to 4 percent of college-age students report significant symptoms of ADHD, such as difficulty with attention, impulse control and restlessness. ADHD is one of the most common disorders of childhood, but symptoms of ADHD often linger into adulthood.

“We know a lot about childhood and adult ADHD but the college-age student population is under studied,” Weyandt says. “College students with ADHD are at 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.”

According to DuPaul, colleges and universities offer many resources to help students with ADHD from a functional standpoint. By studying the use of medication, the researchers seek to look at the impact of the medication to treat the symptoms of ADHD.

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

In this first-ever, double-blind placebo study, researchers will test the effectiveness of Vyvanse™ for treatment of ADHD in college students. Vyvanse is a product marketed by Shire US Inc.

“A tremendous amount of information is available concerning the use of stimulants such as Ritalin in the treatment of children with ADHD, but relatively little information is known about the effectiveness of stimulants on college students with ADHD. The study will shed light on the physiological, academic, psychological, and social effects on this population and is the first of the kind to so do,” Weyandt says.

Students from both universities will be recruited for a 5-week trial per participant. Study results are slated to be collected over the coming year and announced in Fall of 2010.

Story by Dina Silver Pokedoff

Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2009

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