Article Text

  1. A. A. Shah,
  2. S. Bazargan-Hejazi,
  3. R. Lindstrom,
  4. K. E. Wolf,
  5. R. Charles
  1. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, CA


Purpose of Study The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of risky lifestyle behaviors among a national sample of medical students.

Design Cross-sectional anonymous, Web-based survey.

Methods Used 2,698 medical students from 36 US medical schools (1st-4th year) completed this survey. The instrument included questions regarding smoking, drug use, exercise, body mass index, sexual behavior, and two standardized scales to assess drinking (AUDIT) and gambling (South Oaks Gambling Screen) behaviors.

Summary of Results Majority of the sample was female (60%) with mean age at 26 years. Based on BMI (≥ 25), 29% were considered overweight adding that 47% exercise 1 hour or less each week. Over 15% (n = 412) were found to have at-risk drinking behaviors (≥ 8). 9% smoked tobacco in the last 7 days and 16% in the last 30 days. Nearly 50% admitted that they have gambled for money while 3.2% scored positive for pathologic gambling (≥ 5). Drug use in the last 12 months included prescription use (79%); sedatives (8.3%); analgesics or prescription painkillers (13.1%); amphetamines (6.0%); cocaine (1.5%); marijuana (14.3%); heroin (0.1%); PCP or other hallucinogen (1.1%); inhalants (0.7%); and others (3.7%). 76% reported sexual activity in the last 6 months, with 10% having 2+ partners; less than 50% used condoms regularly.

Conclusions Reached The results show mixed differences with some behaviors more prevalent when compared to the general population. These risky behaviors may be associated with the stress of medical school and ineffective interventions currently in place. Further studies should look into possible modifiable covariates that help curb the frequency of some at-risk behaviors. Physicians who have healthier lifestyles are more likely to be positive role models of healthy behaviors. Finding ways to encourage medical students to live healthier lifestyles will prepare them to become physicians with healthy lifestyles, thus becoming better health care providers and promoters.

Statistics from

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.