Alcohol use in an academic medical school environment: A UC San Diego Healer Education Assessment and Referral (HEAR) Report

Stephanie Martinez, Ilanit Tal, William Norcross, Isabel Gala Newton, Nancy Downs, Kathryn Seay, Tara McGuire, Brittany Kirby, Brittany Chidley, Maria Tiamson-Kassab, Daniel Lee, Allison Hadley, Neal Doran, Pam Jong, Kelly Lee, Christine Moutier, Marc Norman, Sidney Zisook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Medical students and physicians in training and in practice are at risk for excessive alcohol use and abuse, potentially impacting the affected individuals as well as their family members, trainees, and patients. However, several roadblocks to care, including stigma, often keep them from seeking treatment.

METHODS: We analyzed data from anonymous questionnaires completed by medical students, house staff, and faculty from 2009 to 2014 as part of a depression awareness and suicide prevention program at a state-supported medical school in the United States. The authors explored associations between self-reported "drinking too much" and depression, suicidal ideation, substance use, intense affective states, and mental health treatment.

RESULTS: Approximately one-fifth of the respondents reported "drinking too much." "Drinking too much" was associated with more severe depression and impairment, past suicide attempts and current suicidal ideation, intense affective states, and other substance use. Those who were "drinking too much" were more likely than others to accept referrals for mental health treatment through the anonymous interactive screening program, suggesting that this program may be effective in skirting the stigma barrier for accessing mental health care for this at-risk population.

CONCLUSIONS: The self-reported prevalence of "drinking too much" among medical students, house staff, and faculty is high and associated with negative mental health outcomes. Targeted, anonymous screenings may identify at-risk individuals and provide mental health care referrals to those in need.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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