The Perceptions and Habits of Alcohol Consumption and Smoking Among Canadian Medical Students

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ObjectiveThe authors aim to quantify the extent, and to assess student perception, of alcohol and tobacco use among medical students at the University of Calgary, and the relationship of these attitudes to problem drinking (according to the CAGE questionnaire).MethodsA questionnaire was distributed to first-, second-, and third-year medical students attending the University of Calgary medical school.ResultsOf the 327 students enrolled, 175 of students responded to the questionnaire. Six percent of the students currently smoke while 24% of students reported cigarette smoking at some point in their life. Eighty-six percent of students currently drink, with a majority drinking fewer than 11 drinks per week. Fifteen percent of students were at an increased risk for problem drinking according to the CAGE questionnaire. An increased risk for problem drinking was significantly related to believing more strongly that getting drunk is acceptable on occasion and less strongly that increased alcohol has many negative health consequences, as well as feeling less in control of alcohol consumption.ConclusionMedical students at the University of Calgary consume less alcohol and cigarettes than a comparable population. However, a high proportion of students are at risk for alcohol abuse according to the CAGE questionnaire. The results of this study suggest that although the quantity of alcohol consumed is not a substantial concern at this time, students might be at risk for future alcohol abuse.

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