Kenna and Lewis identified a number of risk factors associated with substance misuse by a healthcare professional. These can help to identify a professional at risk who may benefit from any early intervention. The authors are from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.


A healthcare professional is more likely to misuse drugs and alcohol if the person is:

(1) younger (less than 35 years of age)

(2) moderate to heavy alcohol use

(3) belief that immune to addictive effects of drugs or alcohol (pharmaceutical invincibility)

(4) socialize with people who abuse drugs OR isolated from others (loner)

(5) smoke cigarettes (although rate of smoking in healthcare professionals is low)


Prevalence of drug and alcohol misuse tends to decline with age. Younger professionals are more likely to misuse drugs and alcohol, with impairment detected in middle adulthood.


Additional factors contributing to substance misuse:

(1) ease of access

(2) use of substance to self-medicate depression, anxiety or other negative feelings


A person was less likely to misuse alcohol or drugs:

(1) belief that misuse was not acceptable behevior

(2) strongly disagreed with needing a drug to stay at work


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