Gehring, K., Patwardhan, S. Y., Collins, R., Groves, M. D., Etzel, C. J., Meyers, C. A., & Wefel, J. S. (2012). A randomized trial on the efficacy of methylphenidate and modafinil for improving cognitive functioning and symptoms in patients with a primary brain tumor. Journal of Neuro-Oncology, 107, 165–174.doi: 10.1007/s11060-011-0723-1
To compare the effectiveness of immediate-release and sustained-release methylphenidate versus modafinil in improving cognitive function in patients with primary brain tumors.
Patients were randomized to receive one of the following three interventions for a total of four weeks: immediate-release methylphenidate, 10 mg twice daily; sustained-release methylphenidate, 18 mg daily; or modafinil, 200 mg daily. Neurocognitive tests were performed prior to the intervention and were repeated approximately 30 days later, after completion of the intervention.
Patients were undergoing multiple phases of care.
The study was a randomized, clinical trial.
Objective Cognitive Function Instruments
Subjective Anxiety Instruments
Subjective Depression Instruments
Subjective Fatigue Instruments
Subjective Sleep-Wake Disturbance Instrument
Although this study revealed some improvements in specific cognitive domains over time (e.g., executive function, speed of processing), it is unclear whether these improvements were due to the use of a stimulant; a specific medication (modafinil versus methylphenidate); or other variables, such as practice effects related to the absence of alternative neuropsychological tests. Making definitive interpretations based on this small study is difficult because the findings were confounded by the use of two stimulants (one with two different dosage schedules) and the lack of a control group (patients who were not receiving stimulants).
No evidence was provided to support the use of stimulants to improve cognitive function. The study supports the conduct of future research of this topic in studies with larger sample sizes and in randomized, clinical trials with a nonintervention arm.