Health risk behaviour of a medical student population: report on a pilot study

J R Soc Health. 1996 Apr;116(2):97-100. doi: 10.1177/146642409611600207.


A pilot study of a cross-sectional nature was carried out to observe and describe the health risk behaviour of a medical student population. The participants (242) were drawn from the students of the University Medical School of Szeged, Hungary. The students were aged 18-31 years (x = 23) and were randomly selected. The response rate was (73%). The project focussed on 4 harmful habits ranked in the following order of prevalence: excessive coffee drinking (35%), smoking (20.9%), regular alcohol use (6.8%) and illicit drug use (5.1%). The non-parametric (Chi-square) test showed significant differences between the higher and lower physical activity groups in terms of psychological well-being (p < 0.05) and health behaviour changes (p < 0.005). Harmful habits, however, were reported more frequently by the higher physical activity group. Significant differences could be detected in terms of women's illicit drug use (p < 0.05). Using the Mann-Whitney U-test, it was detected that those who performed more physical activities rated their health significantly higher (p < 0.001). This study will be pursued in an expanded study with a larger sample and concentrate especially on the relationship of physical activity behaviour to harmful habits. Follow-up methods are also planned to study the medical student population over time, which should yield some greater insight into these relationships.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Coffee
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Hungary
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Smoking
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Coffee