Substance Use Disorders Among Danish Physicians: An Explorative Study of the Professional Socialization and Management of Colleagues With Substance Use Disorders

J Addict Med. Jul-Aug 2016;10(4):248-54. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000228.


Aim: This study has 2 aims. Firstly, we explore and analyze the associations between physicians' unhealthy substance use and various work-cultural and social aspects; secondly, we describe how substance use disorder (SUD defined as by Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test [AUDIT] and Drug Use Disorders Identification Test [DUDIT]) among colleagues is managed and how physicians seek help.

Method: During the spring of 2014, a nationwide cross-sectional study was conducted as an anonymous electronic survey among a randomly weighted sample of medical specialists, junior hospital doctors, and general practitioners in Denmark. A total of 4000 physicians (approximately 1333 from each group) were sampled, and 1943 responded (49%). The survey included the AUDIT, the DUDIT, and questions on health and psychological issues.

Results: Among the physicians in our study, 18.3% had an AUDIT exceeding 8 (hazardous or harmful alcohol use) and 3.2% had a DUDIT exceeding 1. Of these, 12.9% reported that their substance use had negative consequences for their social networks, and 34% to 42% reported no openness about substance use at their workplace. In total, 4 physicians (1%) of the 383 physicians with risky substance use reported to have been in regular treatment for SUDs. Most of the physicians with an unhealthy consumption of substances (78%) reported that it was irrelevant for them to seek help. Half of them reported that they had limited or insufficient knowledge of SUD. Around 55% of the physicians would encourage colleagues with SUDs to seek treatment.

Conclusions: Around 50% of physicians reported that their "SUD knowledge" was relevant, but limited or not satisfactory. One-third never experienced openness about SUD at work. More than half wished to encourage a colleague with SUD to seek treatment. Three quarters of the physicians with unhealthy substance use reported that they found it irrelevant to seek help.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socialization*
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / therapy