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

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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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Addiction Medicine
Pages (from-to)248-54
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2016

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