Substance Use and Alcohol Abuse in Emergency Medicine Training Programs, by Resident Report

Robert M. McNamara, Arthur B. Sanders, Louis Ling, Donald B. Witzke, Kathleen A. Bangs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT Objective: To determine the prevalence of substance use and alcohol abuse among emergency medicine residents. Method: The study instrument was an anonymous, self‐report survey that assessed the use of 13 substances and included the CAGE questions for measuring alcohol abuse. The survey was administered to emergency medicine residents at the time of the American Board of Emergency Medicine's annual In‐Service Examination. Results: Alcohol was the substance most commonly used by emergency medicine residents for nonmedical reasons. Using the CAGE score, 4.9% of residents were classified as alcoholic and another 7.6% as suspect for alcoholism, rates similar to those for housestaff of all specialties as reported in earlier studies. Instruction related to physician impairment during training in their emergency medicine residency was reported by only 36% of the respondents. Conclusions: Emergency medicine residents report a low rate of illicit substance use and do not appear to misuse alcohol differently than other housestaff. Interpretation of these results must be tempered with the potential for underreporting that may occur with a voluntary self‐report survey of a sensitive nature. Acad. Emerg. Med. 1994; 1:47–53.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • physician impairment
  • physicians
  • residents
  • substance abuse
  • substance dependence


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