Attitudes toward stimulant medication for treating ADHD among physical education student teachers

Sharon Tsuk*, Sima Zach, Omer Glixman, Arie Rotstein, Einat Avieli, Aviva Mimouni-Bloch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When addressing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), professional guidelines tend to refer to stimulant medications (such as methylphenidates and amphetamines) as the main form of treatment. Yet the public’s perceptions of pharmacological treatment for ADHD are controversial, with negative attitudes having an impact on adherence to treatment in children and adolescents. Teachers, who play a key role in the diagnosis, referral, and treatment of children with ADHD, are highly influential in children’s adherence to their prescribed medication. Physical education student teachers (PEST) are trained to serve as role models regarding healthy behaviors and are expected to lead healthy lifestyles themselves. It is therefore important to examine the lifestyles and attitudes of this population regarding the use of harmful substances, the use of prescribed and non-prescribed stimulant ADHD medications, while comparing them to those of general education student teachers (GEST), who are not necessarily trained to actively promote healthy lifestyle behaviors. The aim of this study, therefore, was to compare between health behaviors and attitudes of PEST and GEST participants. Quantitative questionnaires were completed by 652 pre-service teachers (438 PEST and 214 GEST). Our findings indicate that less PEST participants reported smoking tobacco compared to GEST ones (5.4% vs 9.1%), while more PEST participants reported using marijuana or alcohol than GEST ones (6.1% vs 3.3% and 7.6% vs 4.8%, respectively). No differences were seen in the use of prescribed stimulant medication for ADHD. However, more PEST reported using non-prescribed stimulant medication for treating ADHD (14.7% vs 2.7%), or not taking their prescribed medication (94.1% vs 78.4%). Furthermore, PEST participants were less inclined to encourage their future students with ADHD to comply with stimulant treatment. These results raise concerns regarding the health behaviors and attitudes of future physical education teachers, and the implications on their students who are diagnosed with ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number162
Pages (from-to)1325-1331
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Education and Sport
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Methylphenidate
  • alcohol
  • cigarettes
  • misuse
  • substances


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