Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Substance use and its predictors among undergraduate medical students of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia

Wakgari Deressa1* and Aklilu Azazh2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

2 Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:660  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-660

Published: 22 August 2011

Abstract

Background

Substance use remains high among Ethiopian youth and young adolescents particularly in high schools and colleges. The use of alcohol, khat and tobacco by college and university students can be harmful; leading to decreased academic performance, increased risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. However, the magnitude of substance use and the factors associated with it has not been investigated among medical students in the country. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of substance use and identify factors that influenced the behavior among undergraduate medical students of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

Methods

A cross-sectional study using a pre-tested structured self-administered quantitative questionnaire was conducted in June 2009 among 622 medical students (Year I to Internship program) at the School of Medicine. The data were entered into Epi Info version 6.04d and analyzed using SPSS version 15 software program. Descriptive statistics were used for data summarization and presentation. Differences in proportions were compared for significance using Chi Square test, with significance level set at p < 0.05. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to assess the magnitude of associations between substance use and socio-demographic and behavioral correlates.

Results

In the last 12 months, alcohol was consumed by 22% (25% males vs. 14% females, p = 0.002) and khat use was reported by 7% (9% males vs. 1.5% females, p < 0.001) of the students. About 9% of the respondents (10.6% males vs. 4.6% females, p = 0.014) reported ever use of cigarette smoking, and 1.8% were found to be current smokers. Using multiple logistic regression models, being male was strongly associated with alcohol use in the last 12 months (adjusted OR = 2.14, 95% CI = 1.22-3.76). Students whose friends currently consume alcohol were more likely to consume alcohol (adjusted OR = 2.47, 95% CI = 1.50-4.08) and whose friends' use tobacco more likely to smoke (adjusted OR = 3.89, 95% CI = 1.83-8.30). Khat use within the past 12 months was strongly and positively associated with alcohol consumption (adjusted OR = 15.11, 95% CI = 4.24-53.91). Similarly, ever use of cigarette was also significantly associated with alcohol consumption (adjusted OR = 8.65, 95% CI = 3.48-21.50).

Conclusions

Concordant use of alcohol, khat and tobacco is observed and exposure to friends' use of substances is often implicated. Alcohol consumption or khat use has been significantly associated with tobacco use. While the findings of this study suggest that substance use among the medical students was not alarming, but its trend increased among students from Year I to Internship program. The university must be vigilant in monitoring and educating the students about the consequences of substance use.