Date

June 2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.P.H.

Department

Dept. of Public Health and Preventive Medicine

Institution

Oregon Health & Science University

Abstract

Background Screening and brief intervention (SBI) are well established in the medical literature as effective strategies to detect and intervene with patients who present with alcohol and other drug use (AOD) disorders. However, research on implementation of SBI has revealed that physicians are reluctant to employ this tool, citing several barriers. Among these barriers are negative attitudes toward patients with AOD disorders. These negative attitudes have also been found in medical students. The aim of this study was to assess the association between medical students’ year in medical training, expected specialty and personal experience with substance use and attitudes towards patients with AOD disorders. Methods A composite questionnaire was created by combining the Short Understanding of Substance Abuse Scale and a modified version of the Alcohol and Alcohol Problems Perception Questionnaire to measure medical students’ attitudes and their perception of role legitimacy, perception of addiction etiology, and personal motivation to work with substance abusing patients. The questionnaire was administered to first and fourth year medical students (MS1 and MS4) in the 2009/2010 academic year. Multiple linear regression models were used to investigate the association between medical students’ year in medical training, expected medical practice and personal experience with substance use and their attitudes toward patients with AOD disorders. Results A total of 197 students participated in the survey. Medical students were found to have similar prevalence of alcohol and drug use behaviors as were reported in prior studies conducted with this population. Significant relationships were not found between student drug use behaviors, medical practice choice and attitudes. However, older students had significantly more positive attitudes toward patients with AOD disorders than younger students. Further, binge drinkers had significantly more positive attitudes toward patients with AOD disorders than non-binge drinkers. Finally, female MS4s had significantly more negative attitudes toward patients with AOD disorders than their female MS1 counterparts. Conclusions The findings of this study suggest that medical students’ own experience with alcohol use may affect their attitudes about patients with alcohol and other drug use disorders. Furthermore, the results indicate that attitudes toward patients with AOD disorders differ between MS1s and MS4s and that further research is needed to investigate the potential reasons for this relationship.

Identifier

doi:10.6083/M4MW2F3V

School

School of Medicine

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