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Stakeholder perspectives and reactions to "academic" cognitive enhancement: unsuspected meaning of ambivalence and analogies
journal contributionposted on 2012-07-01, 00:00 authored by Cynthia ForliniCynthia Forlini, E Racine
The existence of diverging discourses in the media and academia on the use of prescription medications to improve cognition in healthy individuals, i.e. "cognitive enhancement" (CE) creates the need to better understand perspectives from stakeholders. This qualitative focus-group study examined perspectives from students, parents and healthcare providers on CE. Stakeholders expressed ambivalence regarding CE (i.e. reactions to, definitions of, risks, and benefits). They were reluctant to adopt analogies to performance-enhancing steroids and caffeine though these analogies were useful in discussing concepts common to the use of different performance-enhancing substances. Media coverage of CE was criticized for lack of scientific rigor, ethical clarity, and inadvertent promotion of CE. Ambivalence of stakeholders suggests fundamental discomfort with economic and social driving forces of CE. Forms of public dialogue that voice the unease and ambivalence of stakeholders should be pursued to avoid opting hastily for permissive or restrictive health policies for CE.