Study: Every fifth surgeon takes drugs

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Study: Every fifth surgeon takes drugs

In order to reduce stress and to increase their performance, 20 percent of German surgeons have used prescription or illegal drugs at least once. This was the result of an investigation by the Department of Psychiatry at the University Hospital Mainz under the direction of Professor Dr. Klaus Lieb, in which 1105 German surgeons had participated. However, it was not determined which substances were taken and whether the drugs were consumed before or only during an operation.

Stress and shift work create pressure Among the reasons that the physicians give for the consumption of stimulants include the high professional demands, irregular working hours, hectic pace and long shift work. “Surgeons are exposed to a heavy workload that leads to exhaustion and stress. This not only increases the likelihood of making mistakes during the operation, but also puts pressure on the surgeon to use drugs to combat tiredness, anxiety, lack of concentration, burnout or depressive symptoms, ”the study authors write.

Legal and illegal drugs to improve performance The study participants were asked about stimuli that were used without a medical need to improve mental performance and not for pure enjoyment.

Prescription drugs include agents such as methylphenidate, modafinil and anti-dementia drugs that have a stimulating effect on the organism. In the case of the freely available, legal stimulants, on the other hand, stimulants such as coffee, energy drinks or caffeine pills were primarily mentioned.

Among the illegal substances were cocaine, ecstasy, speed and similar drugs. However, the study does not provide any information about the proportions of the study participants who consumed the drugs listed.

The consumption of addictive substances is increasing However, surgeons worldwide are not the only ones who are increasingly taking performance-enhancing substances to protect themselves against stress and demands in the job. An AOK study recently found that more and more Germans are getting sick as a result of using addictive substances such as nicotine, alcohol and cocaine - by around 17 percent in the past ten years, according to the "Absentee Report 2013". In 2002, there were still 2.07 million days of absence registered in the context, and in 2012 it was 2.42 million. (ag)

Image: Martin Büdenbender /

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