Objectives: Hazardous drinking is widespread in medical students, but is poorly studied in France. The aim
was to evaluate the number of hazardous drinking episodes and to better characterize them, among a sample
of French medical students.
Methods: We carried out a cross-sectional study at Paris VII’s Faculty of Medicine. Through a brief self-questionnaire, we focused on the prevalence rate of hazardous drinking in the past two weeks, and examined the associations between hazardous drinking and the number of drinks consumed, demographic data (gender, age, familial status and student fraternity membership), clinical aspects (context, intended effects and adverse consequences), tobacco or illegal substances use, and eventual relationship with alcohol or tobacco use disorders.
Results: Among 302 medical students, 74.8% of them experienced at least one hazardous drinking episode in
the last two weeks. There was no significant difference in demographic data. However, the association between
hazardous drinking and to live single was borderline significant (p=0.051). Students experienced on mean 2.4
(SD, 1.6) episodes in the last two weeks and their mean maximum number of drinks was equal to 10.3 (SD, 4.6). We observed a significant association between the number of hazardous drinking episodes and the mean maximum consumption of alcohol drinks (p=0.004). The maximum quantity of alcohol drinks was significantly higher (p<0,001) in students who experienced two hazardous drinking episodes (mean= 11.23, SD=4.56), compared to those who experienced only one episode (mean=9.04, SD=3.96). Hazardous drinkers were more likely to consume alcohol at a party than at a friendly drink (p=0.029) and more frequently sought drunkenness (p<0.001) and to escape from daily concerns (p=0.004). They experienced more negative events like black-out (p<0.001), aggressive behaviours (p=0.002), drunk driving (p=0.025), unsafe sexual relationships (p=0.010) and need of emergency responders (p=0.047). Hazardous drinkers were more likely to simultaneously consume tobacco (p<0.001) or illegal substances (p<0.001), and presented more alcohol use disorder (p<0.001) and tobaccodependence (p=0.007).
Conclusions: This first French study in 302 medical students has highlighted the extent of hazardous drinking
in this specific population. Then, the threshold of two hazardous drinking episodes in two weeks may be useful
to identify a distinctive pattern of consumption and set up adequate prevention actions. Finally, hazardous drinking seemed to be close to an addictive process. Our findings support the need to develop targeted prevention programs in French medical students, which could be designed around several interventions in campuses and student parties. Cohort studies could be necessary to provide an epidemiological follow-up of the French medical student population, particularly about the risk of alcohol use disorder.
CCA Psychiatrie Addictologie
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