Fewer medical residents are self-medicating these days. That’s according to a study published Feb. 27 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, where researchers found just over 7% of medical residents prescribed themselves medications including stimulants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics. That’s in stark contrast to the 52% who said they self-medicated back in 1998.
This time around, researchers surveyed 1,555 interns , most (1,267) of whom completed at least one follow-up survey during the internship year. Among those who followed up, 11% reporting taking prescription medication, 50% of which came from a personal physician, 24% from a colleague, 18% from a sample cabinet, and 7.6% from their own script pad.
Comparatively, the 1998 findings show that 78% reported taking a prescription medication, with more than half being self-presribed. More than 40% of self-prescribed medication came from a sample cabinet; 11% from a drug rep.
So why the decrease? Authors of the Archives study said one reason is the growing awareness of the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on intern behavior and medical practices.
“This study suggests that there has been a dramatic shift among physicians in training away from self-prescription and use of medications from sample cabinets and pharmaceutical representatives,” they wrote.
Going forward, researchers should look at whether the shift also exists in practice, where personal use of samples is common and interactions with drug representatives is more frequent, the authors recommended.
—Frances Correa (@FMCReporting on Twitter)