Neuroenhancing Substances Use, Exam Anxiety and Academic Performance in Bosnian-Herzegovinian FirstYear University Students

Jasna Kusturica, Ajša Hajdarević, Haris Nikšić, Amira Skopljak, Zana Tafi, Aida Kulo


Objective. The aim of this study was to assess the re­lationship between the use of neuroenhancing sub­stances, exam anxiety and academic performance among first-year Bosnian-Herzegovinian (BH) uni­versity students.

Methods. In a cross-sectional study, an ad hoc questionnaire was delivered to a sample of BH first-year university students. The following data were collected: socio-demographic features, con­sumption of neuroenchancing substances, the West­side Test Anxiety Scale (WTAS) and academic perfor­mance.

Results. A total of 214 students were included. Consumption of lifestyle substances, coffee, energy drinks, nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana, for the pur­pose of neuroenhancement increased during the week before the exams. OTC cognitive enhancer use was reported by 31.0%, and of benzodiazepines by 1.5% of students. No psycostimulants were used. A high to extremely high exam WTAS score was reported in 38.3% students. The exam WTAS score was positively correlated with consumption of coffee (rho=0.31; P<0.001), energy drinks (rho=0.18; P=0.009), and nic­otine (rho=0.22; P=0.001), and negatively correlated with last exam grade (rho=-0.33; P<0.001). The exam WTAS score was a significant independent predictor (OR=0.55; 95% CI 0.31 to 0.97, P=0.039) for self-as­sessed academic performance. Self-assessed academic performance was positively correlated with last exam grade (rho=0.15; P=0.043).

Conclusions. Although first-year BH university students do not seem to use either prescription or illicit psycostimulants, the con­sumption of nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana is wor­rying. However, the consumption of these neuroen­hancing substances seems not to be related to better self-assessed academic performance. Finally, exam anxiety seems to be a significant problem among BH first-year university students.


Performance-Enhancing Substances; Lifestyle Drugs; Psycostimulants; Anxiety; Academic Performance

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