Drinking, illicit drug use, stress and other lifestyle variables in medical students and doctors
Lifestyles, including alcohol consumption and illicit drug use in medical students were assessed using a self-completion questionnaire. Eight cohorts of secondy ear medical students were assessed consecutively between 1993-2000. The proportion of medical students in each cohort drinking excessively increased during this period. Illicit drug use stayed fairly stable with approximately half of each year group reporting having experimented with illicit drugs. Lifestyles in medical students were assessed in the second and final year of studies and one year after graduation. Alcohol consumption and illicit drug use had significantly increased over the 4 year period of the study. Two cohorts of medical and dental students were also compared in a similar study design. Although alcohol consumption in dental students was more than their medical student counterparts during the second year of the studies, it decreased one year after graduation. Illicit drug use was higher in medics than in dentists at all three time points. Nearly half of the fresher medical students reported to have been drinking excessively and using illicit drugs before beginning university life. Personality characteristics of the students were found to be related to their alcohol and illicit drug use. A significant proportion of pre-registration house officers suffered from stress and anxiety with more women than men having anxiety scores within the clinically significant range. Job satisfaction was low, with more pre-registration house officers being dissatisfied with the organisational processes of their jobs. Personality was significantly related to stress, anxiety, depression and job satisfaction. Education on alcohol and illicit drugs for young people may be needed at a much earlier age. Dealing with the problems of drink, drugs and stress among medical students and doctors may require a holistic approach which considers both the culture of medical education and work conditions.