Mayo Clinic: Medical students more prone to alcohol abuse

- Medical students are more likely to abuse alcohol than their peers, especially if they are young, single and carrying a high amount of debt. Researchers at Mayo Clinic surveyed 12,500 medical students as part of their study on medical student burnout.

One-third of the medical students who responded to the survey experienced clinical alcohol abuse or dependence, compared to only 16 percent of non-medical school peers. The rate of alcohol abuse by medical students is also double the rate of surgeons, physicians or the general public, based on earlier research.

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

5 factors associated with alcohol abuse in medical students

Emotional exhaustion
Feelings of depersonalization
Younger age than most peers in medical school
Being unmarried
Amount of student loan debt

*No statistical difference was found between differing years of medical school or between men and women

According to the study, the average cost of medical school from 1995 to 2014 increased by 209 percent at private colleges and 286 percent at public schools. Doctors graduating with the class of 2014 had an average of $180,000 in debt.

These findings appear in the journal Academic Medicine. The study was funded by the American Medical Association and Mayo Clinic. Along with first author and Mayo Medical School student Eric Jackson, co-authors include Tait Shanafelt, M.D., Omar Hasan, M.B.B.S., and Daniel Satele, of Mayo Clinic.

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