The drinking patterns of physicians may affect their own health and how they treat patients with substance use disorders. This is why we wanted to find out risky drinking among medical students. A questionnaire was delivered to all medical students at the University of Tampere and risky alcohol drinking was defined as a minimum score of five for women and six for men in the AUDIT-C alcohol screen (rating 0 to 12). The respondent rate was 94% (n=465). Of the whole sample 33% were risky drinkers, 24% of women and 49% of men. After the first study year the female risky drinkers significantly decreased and men increased their drinking. Significantly more men but not women with moderate alcohol use reduced drinking during the first year of studies compared with risky drinkers of the same gender. The AUDIT-C scored higher in the subgroups of risky drinkers willing to reduce drinking compared with those who did not want to cut down drinking (7.3. and 6.5., p<0.001). In the male sample the third AUDIT-C sub-question on binge drinking (=AUDIT-3, rating 0 to 4) at a cut-off point of ≥2 was nearly as effective as the whole AUDIT-C at a cut-off point of ≥6. This was not the case in the female sub-sample. Risky drinking is common among medical students and continues throughout the studies especially among men. AUDIT-3 is a short and reliable screening tool for male but not for female students.
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