Home > Undergraduate medical education in substance use in Ireland: a review of the literature and discussion paper.

O’Brien, S and Cullen, Walter (2011) Undergraduate medical education in substance use in Ireland: a review of the literature and discussion paper. Irish Journal of Medical Science, 180, (4), pp. 787-792. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-011-0736-y.

Medical complications of substance use are a considerable cause of morbidity and the role of the physician in the care of such problems has consistently been demonstrated. Appropriate knowledge and skills are necessary to carry out this role.

To review the literature on training undergraduate medical students in identifying and managing substance misuse and to discuss the implications of this literature for Irish medical education.

A search of the literature was performed using keywords; ‘substance-related disorders’, ‘undergraduate’ and ‘curriculum’. All abstracts were reviewed and the full text of relevant abstracts was studied and references reviewed for further articles.

Despite an increase in prevalence of the problem of drug and alcohol use in Ireland and the UK, this has not been reflected in undergraduate medical curricula. In the UK, minimal time is devoted to formal teaching of medical undergraduates in the area of substance misuse and many doctors do not have the appropriate knowledge, skills, attitudes and confidence to treat patients with such problems. In Ireland, no data has reported formal undergraduate teaching hours in the area of drug and alcohol misuse. Internationally, substance abuse curricula have been developed and implemented in medical schools in the United States and Australia.

While substance misuse is increasing in prevalence, this is not reflected in the composition of medical curricula, especially in Ireland. International best practice whereby undergraduate curricula that adequately address substance misuse and related issues are systematically developed and implemented, is recommended for adoption by Irish medical schools.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Education and training
Identification #
Page Range
pp. 787-792
Accession Number
HRB (Not in collection)
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