Mayo Clinic study: One-third of medical students misuse alcohol

Researchers cite exhaustion, student debt as reasons for misuse

Medical students are far more likely than the general population to suffer from alcohol dependency, according to a study from Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic researchers surveyed over 4,000 medical school students. About 1,400—roughly 35 percent—reported that they experienced clinical alcohol misuse or suffered from alcohol dependence. By comparison, according to previous Mayo Clinic research, peers not in medical school, surgeons, physicians, and the general U.S. population are about half as likely to misuse alcohol.

"Our findings clearly show there is reason for concern," says study co-author Liselotte Dyrbye.

Researchers found that factors such as emotional exhaustion, young age, and being unmarried were associated with higher risk of alcohol misuse or dependence.

Jarring statistics prompt renewed concern about doctors', med students' mental health

Researchers also found that high amounts of educational debt increased the risk of alcohol dependence. In 2014, medical school students graduated with an average of $180,000 in educational debt.

"We recommend institutions pursue a multifaceted solution to address related issues with burnout, the cost of medical education, and alcohol abuse," Drybye says (Mayo Clinic News Network/Sacramento Bee, 3/17; HealthDay News/United Press International, 3/16).


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