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Illicit drug use among medical students and its association with gender, psychological distress sleep quality and exposure to psychiatry: a nationwide study

Rayan M. Joudeh (College of Medicine, Sulaiman Al Rajhi Colleges, Al Bukayriyah, Saudi Arabia)
Raba’a F. Jarrar (Department of the Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Faculty of Science, The University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan)
Adnan Raed Alnaser (College of Medicine, Sulaiman Al Rajhi Colleges, Al Bukayriyah, Saudi Arabia)
Abdelkader Battah (Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan)
Mazen Hindi (Faculty of Medicine, The University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan)
Arwa A. Battah (New York Medical College, Saint Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, New Jersey, USA)
Eslam M. Wadi (Faculty of Medicine, Mu’tah University, Mu’tah, Jordan)
Osama A. Zitoun (School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 27 November 2023

Issue publication date: 1 February 2024

25

Abstract

Purpose

Illicit drug use is a well-known global problem that has been noticed to be increased significantly among medical students. This study aims to assess the prevalence and consequences of illicit drug use among medical students in the country of Jordan using the validated Drug Abuse Screening Test-10 (DAST-10).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors used a cross-sectional, descriptive design to conduct this study. A total of 2,104 participants from six medical schools were included. A structured online-based English self-administered questionnaire was used for data collection.

Findings

Out of 2,104 included participants, 242 (11.5%) reported using illicit drugs in the past year. More than three-quarters (77%) of the drug users suffer from various degrees of problems related to drug use, ranging from risky (41%) to severe risk (6%). Drug use was found to be associated with gender, planned specialty and exposure to psychiatry training.

Research limitations/implications

The cross-sectional design prevents from drawing cause-and-effect relationships and confirming how the tendency toward substance use is affected by the psychological state, sleep quality and exposure to psychiatry. Also, although it is important to measure the subjective observation of distress and sleep, objective estimates of psychological distress and sleep including actigraphy and sleep diary could be helpful to strengthen the findings. Also using an online survey with convenience sampling are some inevitable limitations with the present COVID-19 restrictions. Also, the nature of DAST-10 closed-ended questions precluded from accurately exploring the consequences of substance abuse.

Practical implications

Appropriate screening to identify medical students at risk for substance abuse and provide them with treatment referrals are strongly recommended in this study. In addition, medical schools should provide a comfortable environment that encourages a healthy lifestyle with a responsible attitude toward using drugs.

Originality/value

There is a dearth of information about illicit drug use among medical students, especially in the country of Jordan. The nature of their studies, the different stresses they experience and the impact imposed by other factors such as sociocultural all are likely to make medical students more susceptible to drug abuse. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first cross-national study of its kind in Jordan with a representative sample of 2,104 participants. We assessed the prevalence and consequences of self-reported illicit drug use and the sleep quality of medical students from all schools of medicine in Jordan.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This research received no funding.

Citation

Joudeh, R.M., Jarrar, R.F., Alnaser, A.R., Battah, A., Hindi, M., Battah, A.A., Wadi, E.M. and Zitoun, O.A. (2024), "Illicit drug use among medical students and its association with gender, psychological distress sleep quality and exposure to psychiatry: a nationwide study", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 64-78. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-01-2023-0005

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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