Alcohol use behaviors and outcomes in professional student pharmacists
Al-Shatnawi, Samah Fawzi
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Problematic alcohol use is a prevalent behavioral health issue among college students. Evidence indicates that problematic alcohol use and other mental health problems are prominent in samples of healthcare students. However, less research has examined alcohol use behaviors and outcomes among student pharmacists in comparison to other healthcare students. Problematic alcohol use can cause personal disruption and loss of productivity at school and in the professional career of future pharmacists. As a result, the pharmaceutical healthcare process and patients’ health may be jeopardized. Thus, the purpose of this work is to integrate previous research findings within a study that examines alcohol use behaviors and outcomes among a sample of student pharmacists in order to identify factors associated with their problematic alcohol use behaviors and outcomes. Alcohol use behaviors and outcomes of student pharmacists were assessed prospectively using a cross-sectional study design. Student pharmacists enrolled at 6 pharmacy schools in the southeastern United States were solicited to participate in this study. Participants were asked to complete an online, anonymous, voluntary survey designed to assess substance use behaviors and risk factors in student pharmacists. The survey was administered using Qualtrics software between 2013 and 2014. This survey included pre-validated measures that assess alcohol use behaviors and outcomes, alcohol use-related risk factors, perceived stress, depressive symptomatology, anxiety levels, personality traits associated with impulsive behaviors, and demographic factors. The sample consisted of 1194 student pharmacists enrolled in their first, second, third, and fourth pharmacy program-years. A high prevalence of problematic alcohol use (18%) and a high rate of experienced alcohol-related outcomes (39%) within the past-year were observed. Significant associations between alcohol use behaviors and outcomes and different factors including: demographic characteristics (e.g. gender, age, year in school, relationship status, and academic performance); risk factors (e.g. age of first alcohol use, family history, other drug use, and existing mental conditions); psychological factors (e.g. anxiety level and depressive symptomatology); and personality traits (e.g. negative urgency and lack of premeditation) were also detected. Our results suggest that pharmacy schools should implement effective screening and early intervention programs in an effort to address this important student health issue.