Aims: To describe changes in the patterns and consequences of alcohol use among Norwegian doctors from 2000 to 2010. Methods: Longitudinal study based on data from nation-wide postal surveys in 2000 and 2010 among a representative sample of 682 doctors in Norway. The Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) was used to measure the changes in drinking patterns (frequency of drinking, frequency of heavy drinking and quantity of drinking), symptoms of alcohol dependence and adverse consequences of drinking. A score above 8 was defined as hazardous drinking. Results: From 2000 to 2010, the proportion of doctors who used alcohol twice a week or more significantly increased from 31.4 (27.9–34.9) % to 48.7 (44.9–48.7) %, and the proportion of those who drank to intoxication weekly or more decreased significantly from 6.6 (4.7–8.6) % to 2.5 (1.3–1.7) %. The proportion who scored above 8 on the AUDIT decreased from 10.7 (8.4–13.0) % in 2000 to 8.2 (6.2–10.3) % in 2010. There was a significant increase in the partial AUDIT-score for drinking patterns (t = 2.4; P = 0.016), and a significant decrease in the partial AUDIT-score for adverse consequences of drinking (t = −3.6; P < 0.001). The partial AUDIT-score for symptoms of alcohol dependence did not change significantly (t = −1.6; P = 0.112). There were gender differences in drinking patterns. Females had less frequent alcohol consumption and fewer episodes of heavy and hazardous drinking in 2000 and 2010.
Conclusion: The drinking pattern of Norwegian doctors has changed over the past decade towards more moderate alcohol consumption and less negative alcohol-related consequences. Changes in the attitude towards alcohol consumption may to a certain extent explain these findings.