Survey Suggests Medical Students May be at Risk for Alcohol Abuse

Survey Suggests Medical Students May be at Risk for Alcohol Abuse

A new survey finds medical students have double the rate of alcohol abuse or dependence, compared with surgeons, U.S. physicians or the general public, HealthDay reports.

The researchers cite burnout and school debts as possible factors.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic contacted 12,500 medical students. Of the one-third who responded, approximately 1,400 said they experienced clinical alcohol abuse or dependence. That translates to about one-third of respondents, compared with 16 percent of peers who are not medical school students.

The findings appear in the journal Academic Medicine.

“Our findings clearly show there is reason for concern,” study senior author Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye said in a news release. “We recommend institutions pursue a multifaceted solution to address related issues with burnout, the cost of medical education and alcohol abuse.”

The study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between being a medical school student and an increased risk of alcohol problems, the article notes.
In addition to burnout factors such as emotional exhaustion, other factors contributing to alcohol problems included younger age, not being married, and large educational debt.

People who graduated with a medical degree in 2014 had an average of $180,000 in educational debt, the study noted.
“In our paper we recommend wellness curricula for medical schools, identifying and remediating factors within the learning environment contributing to stress, and removal of barriers to mental health services,” said first author and Mayo Medical School student Eric Jackson.

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