Medical students, especially those who are young, unmarried and under high debt, are at a higher risk for alcohol abuse compared to their peers not attending medical school, Mayo Clinic researchers have found.
The researchers analyzed burnout among 12,500 medical students. Approximately one-third of the medical students participated in the survey.
Findings showed that 1,400 of the respondents had gone through clinical alcohol abuse or dependence.
Senior study author and Mayo Clinic internist Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye highlighted reasons for concern over the results. The researchers advised institutions to create a multifaceted solution to solve the rising rates of burnout among medical students and their subsequent links to medical education costs and alcohol abuse.
Factors such as depersonalization and emotional exhaustion are all linked to alcohol dependence or abuse. Other factors, including the amount of medical educational debt, being younger than most colleagues in medical school and being unmarried or single, were also independently associated with alcohol abuse. The gender and medical school year did not result in any statistical difference.
"In our paper we recommend wellness curricula for medical schools, identifying and remediating factors within the learning environment contributing to stress, and removal of barriers to mental health services," said Eric Jackson, a Mayo Medical School student and the study's first author.
The researchers said that a medical school's average cost between 1995 and 2014 increased at a staggering 209 percent (private colleges) and 286 percent (public institutions). They added that doctors who graduated from medical school in 2014 carry an average of approximately $180,000 in student loans.
In a separate study, researchers have found that student loans are not the problem of students or young professionals alone. There are many Americans who are 65 years old and above who carry unpaid college debt, and this collective debt amounts to approximately $18.2 million.
The Mayo Clinic research was published in the Academic Medicine journal.