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J Subst Abuse. 1990;2(1):15-37.

A norm-referenced longitudinal study of medical student drinking patterns.

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  • 1Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, IL.


The alcohol consumption patterns of a single class of 121 medical students was assessed at six points over the course of 4 years of medical school training, along with other measures of drinking-related impairment, family history of alcoholism, personality, and psychosocial functioning. Research Diagnostic Criteria were applied to make diagnoses of alcoholism. Eleven percent of the class reported drinking at a level considered "heavy" by class social norms, most transiently. Eighteen percent of the class met criteria for alcohol abuse by virtue of drinking-related impairment during medical school; they were likely to evidence a prior history of alcohol abuse and a family history of alcoholism. Half the excessive drinkers abused alcohol, but two-thirds of the abusers were not excessive drinkers. Alcohol abusers describe themselves as less warm, kind, gentle, and emotionally expressive than their classmates, and were more preoccupied with themes of power in spontaneous fantasy productions. These findings suggest that interpersonal strategies to intervene with alcohol abusing medical students may encounter predictable resistances, and suggest another intervention approach better suited to their psychological concerns.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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