Alcohol use and abuse in random samples of physicians and medical students

Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge Hospital, MA 02139.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 03/1991; 81(2):177-82. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.81.2.177
Source: PubMed


This study sought to resolve conflicting views about whether physicians are especially prone to alcohol abuse.
Using an anonymous, mailed questionnaire on substance use, we surveyed 500 physicians, 510 pharmacists, and 974 of their students. The physicians and pharmacists were selected randomly from the state society's membership lists, and students selected were from local school lists. Follow-up surveys were sent to nonresponders at two-week intervals.
The physicians and medical students did not drink especially heavily and were no more vulnerable to alcoholism than were their counterparts in pharmacy and other professions. Physicians differed from pharmacists in their style of drinking (greater frequency, smaller quantity), but not in total amount of alcohol consumed. Drinking habits among physicians were not associated with medical specialty or type of practice, but were positively related to gender (males drank more than females) and to age (older doctors were more apt to qualify as heavy drinkers than were younger doctors).
Physicians were no more likely to abuse substances nonmedically than were other professionals. Any group in which alcohol use is nearly universal incurs a risk of abuse and impairment that cannot be ignored.

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    • "A study in the Republic of Macedonia found that over 50% of students had used alcohol, specifically to relieve stress, and 12% had used hypnotics [15]. Other studies conducted in Brazil, Nigeria, Vietnam, Norway, Canada, the United States, and other countries reported similar results [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26]. It would appear therefore that the use of sedative drugs is comparatively widespread across the world in the medical student population. "
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    Depression research and treatment 01/2014; 2014:378738. DOI:10.1155/2014/378738
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    • "Trend data on alcohol-related deaths by occupations in England and Wales (Romeri et al., 2007) document a significant decrease for male doctors from 1960 to 2005. Investigations from Switzerland (Sebo et al., 2007), Finland (Juntunen et al., 1988), Australia (Nash et al., 2010) and the USA (McAuliffe et al., 1991) show that younger doctors are less likely to engage in harmful drinking. In the Norwegian data from 1985, young doctors were found to be more aware of the Fig. 1. "
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