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New knowledge can help doctors who have a risky use of alcohol

In a new survey, researchers from Aarhus University have mapped doctors' alcohol consumption. The study provides important knowledge that can help doctors to tackle harmful use.

A group of researchers from Aarhus University have just published the results of a new questionnaire and interview study in the Danish Medical Journal. The study is the first of its kind in Denmark to map doctors' alcohol use.

"We have discovered that 2.5 per cent of the participants have a harmful consumption of alcohol. Overall, 19 per cent of the participants were screened as having a "risky" alcohol use – that is to say a consumption which is potentially harmful and may cause addiction," says PhD in anthropology Johanne Korsdal Sørensen from the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University, who is behind the study, which is the first of its kind in Denmark.

The study also shows that three per cent of doctors have a risky use of drugs, including medicinal products that are used without medical indication.

It should also be noted that Danes generally have a high level of alcohol consumption. Almost 21 per cent of the population have a consumption above the maximum set by the Danish Health and Medicines Authority, which is seven units of alcohol per week for women and 14 units per week for men.

Taboos need to be broken down
The researchers behind the study hope that the results can help to break down a taboo about doctors' use of alcohol.

"There are results from the study which indicate that it is difficult for doctors to seek help. There is a strong taboo surrounding the issue of alcohol abuse among doctors and there is a need to look into how we can open up for more dialogue about the issue," says Johanne Korsdal Sørensen.

Additional studies of alcohol use among doctors will be published over the following months. The results that Johanne Korsdal Sørensen and her colleagues have will e.g. shed light on how doctors who previously have had a problem with alcohol abuse, have experienced and dealt with the stigma, which comes with the abuse at their workplace.

"Moreover, we have preliminary results which indicate that there is in some cases a correlation between work-related burn-out and abuse. These correlations need to be analysed in detail and we have ideas for developing an intervention, which we can implement as soon as we have the necessary funding is in place," she says.

You can find out more about the study in the article in the Danish Medical Journal.

Further information

Johanne Korsdal Sørensen

Aarhus University, Department of Public Health

+45 2130 1787