Prevalence and Associated Factors of Alcohol Consumption and Smoking among Medical Students in Northeastern Brazil

<p></p><p>ABSTRACT Introduction Tobacco and alcohol consumption is considered a major cause of diseases and disorders in the world. In Brazil, there has been increased consumption of these drugs among young people, especially university students. Objective To discover the prevalence of and factors associated to smoking and alcohol consumption among medical students, as well as their level of knowledge about techniques to stop smoking at different times of their academic life. Methods Analytical study of prevalence among medical students in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil. The study sample included all the city’s medical schools and their first year (S1/S2) and fourth year (S7/S8) students and students in the final year of their internship (I3/I4). The sample was calculated considering an expected smoker frequency of 10%, with a 3% margin of error, estimating 726 students in the four institutions. A structured questionnaire containing 46 questions was applied. Data were analyzed using Stata 11.2 software. Results 1,035 students were interviewed, distributed proportionally in the three periods: 392 (37.87%) from the first year (S1 / S2), 319 (30.82%) from the fourth year (S7/S8) and 324 (31.30%) interns (I3/I4). 553 students (53.4%) were female; most of the students were single (993; 96.3%), born in Fortaleza (748; 72.4%), living with their parents (896; 86.8%) and with a household income of more than 10 minimum wages (652; 61.8%). In total, 533 (51.5%) were students at private institutions. Of the total, 254 (24.6%) had smoked. This consumption was significantly higher among males (p = 0.025), with no difference in relation to marital status (p = 0.247) or household income (p = 0.191). All the students who reported having experienced any tobacco derivative also reported using alcohol in their lifetime (p < 0.000). Alcohol consumption was reported by more than 80% of the students, and was higher among those whose family income was more than nine times the minimum wage (p = 0.001). Alcoholic intoxication was reported by over 70% of the students – where this had occurred before the age of 18 years. Beer and vodka are the most consumed beverages. Only 39.5% said they were inclined to advise a patient to avoid alcoholic beverages and only 28.4% had received training on the subject at their university. Conclusion The prevalence of alcohol consumption is very high among medical students, especially among those who reported smoking. These issues are addressed in a primitive manner in their training. We must strengthen these aspects in the training of future health professionals.</p><p></p>