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Alcohol and other substance use among medical and law students at a UK university: a cross-sectional questionnaire survey

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Paul Bogowicz, Dr Eilish Gilvarry, Professor Farhad Kamali, Professor Eileen KanerORCiD, Professor Dorothy Newbury-Birch



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by BMJ Group, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Purpose of the study To examine the use of alcohol and other substances among medical and law students at a UK university.Study design Anonymous cross-sectional questionnaire survey of first, second and final year medical and law students at a single UK university.Results 1242 of 1577 (78.8%) eligible students completed the questionnaire. Over half of first and second year medical students (first year 53.1%, second year 59.7%, final year 35.9%) had an Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) score suggestive of an alcohol use disorder (AUDIT≥8), compared with over two-thirds of first and second year law students (first year 67.2%, second year 69.5%, final year 47.3%). Approximately one-quarter of medical students (first year 26.4%, second year 28.4%, final year 23.7%) and over one-third of first and second year law students (first year 39.1%, second year 42.4%, final year 18.9%) reported other substance use within the past year. Over one-third of medical students (first year 34.4%, second year 35.6%, final year 46.3%) and approximately half or more of law students (first year 47.2%, second year 52.7%, final year 59.5%) had a Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety score suggestive of a possible anxiety disorder.Conclusions Study participants had high levels of substance misuse and anxiety. Some students’ fitness to practice may be impaired as a result of their substance misuse or symptoms of psychological distress. Further efforts are needed to reduce substance misuse and to improve the mental well-being of students.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bogowicz P, Ferguson J, Gilvarry E, Kamali F, Kaner E, Newbury-Birch D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Postgraduate Medical Journal

Year: 2018

Volume: 94

Issue: 1109

Pages: 131-136

Print publication date: 01/03/2018

Online publication date: 04/11/2017

Acceptance date: 21/10/2017

Date deposited: 06/12/2017

ISSN (print): 0032-5473

ISSN (electronic): 1469-0756

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2017-135136


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