A new study shows: Medical students may be more at risk for alcohol problems. Two possible reasons could be burnout and school debt.

The study, let by Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. and published in the journal Academic Medicine, found an association between being a medical student and a higher risk of alcohol problems. But it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. For the research, surveys were submitted to 12,500 medical students in the United States. About 33% responded.

  • About 1,400 medical students reported alcohol abuse or dependence. That’s about 33% of medical students who responded.
  • By comparison, about 16% of people who aren’t in medical school have an alcohol abuse or dependence problem.
  • Medical students had twice the rate of alcohol problems as surgeons, physicians and the general public.

The researchers found a strong link between burnout factors such as emotional exhaustion and alcohol abuse among medical students. Other significant factors included:

  1. Younger age,
  2. Not being married, and
  3. Large educational debt.

Our findings clearly show there is reason for concern,” said study senior author Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye, in a Mayo news release.

We recommend institutions pursue a multifaceted solution to address related issues with burnout, the cost of medical education and alcohol abuse.”


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