Substance abuse in freshmen medical students over time

David P. Sheridan, N. Peter Johnson, Philip J. Michels, Lucy N. Marion, Sara G. Fuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This study assessed the extent of alcohol use among six classes of freshman medical students over an 8-year period to provide actuarial feedback about drinking patterns to these students. A total of 278 freshman medical students was anonymously surveyed in class using the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST). Students were given subsequent group feedback about these data with ample time for discussion. Signs of clinical detection and community resources were highlighted. Of all students 11.7% were nondrinkers, 51% were nonproblematic drinkers, 7% were borderline, 23% were 80% likely to be alcoholic, and 7% were 100% likely to be alcoholic based on the MAST score. No time trends were evident in substance use patterns. The 13-item Short MAST (SMAST) compared to the MAST had a sensitivity of 52% and a specificity of 98%. The need for better education, detection, and intervention regarding alcohol abuse among medical students was evident. Fortunately, no time trends are evident in this school's freshmen classes in contrast to national trends in college students. Teaching about problem drinking based on the administration of the MAST and from drinking norms of the class appears to increase awareness, relevance, and concern about alcohol abuse among freshmen medical students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-98
Number of pages6
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Medical students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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