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Original article

Vol. 142 No. 3334 (2012)

Identification of possible risk factors for alcohol use disorders among general practitioners in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

  • Michael Unrath
  • Hajo Zeeb
  • Stephan Letzel
  • Matthias Claus
  • Luis Carlos Escobar Pinzón
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2012;142:w13664


QUESTIONS UNDER STUDY: Research on alcohol use disorders among physicians has been scarce in Germany. The aim of our study was to identify possible risk factors for alcohol use disorders among general practitioners (GPs) working in the outpatient sector in the federal German state of Rhineland-Palatinate (RP).

METHODS: An anonymous survey was carried out between June and July 2009. 2,092 practice-based GPs in the federal German state of RP were asked to take part in the cross-sectional study via postal mail. The CAGE screening tool was used in its German version (CAGE-G) to screen for alcohol use disorders (AUD). Moreover, possible risk factors such as work stress (effort-reward imbalance), stress experienced in the leisure time and personality characteristics (Type D personality, resilience) were included in the questionnaire.

RESULTS: 808 GPs participated (response rate 38.6%), n = 790 were eligible for the analysis. The frequency of AUD according to the CAGE-G was 18.9% (n = 149). Moreover, nearly one in four general practitioners reported consuming alcohol on a daily basis (23.0%, n = 182). In the logistic regression analyses, stress experienced in the leisure time was positively related to the occurrence of AUD, whereas resilience was negatively associated.

CONCLUSIONS: AUD as screened for by the CAGE-G was frequent in our sample of German GPs. Approaches to reduce their occurrence could comprise actions helping physicians to relieve stress in their leisure time. Furthermore, measures to increase physicians’ resilience by improving coping strategies might prove useful.


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