oa South African Family Practice - Experiences and opinions of first-year students at a previously disadvantaged medical university in South Africa about alcohol consumption : research



The use of alcohol amongst first-year students in institutions of higher learning is problematic as it often leads to social and academic problems, for instance high dropout rates and high-risk sexual behaviour. Research on first-year students' opinions regarding their own use of alcohol at the University of Limpopo, Medunsa Campus, was seen as pertinent as this institution trains medical doctors, dentists and other health professionals. The findings could inform appropriate interventions by policy-makers at the institution. This paper presents the qualitative data nested from a larger study on alcohol use among first-year medical students.

A sample of 217 first-year students was obtained, to whom a questionnaire was administered which included open-ended questions formulated from discussions with a focus group of eight first-year students. The open-ended questions were formulated in a manner that allowed participants to give an account of their experience and opinions related to the drinking of alcohol. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse qualitative data.
The participants comprised 90 (41.5%) females, 13 (6%) White, 196 (90.3%) Black, 4 (1.8%) Asian and 4 (1.8%) Coloured students. The study revealed substantive views relating to first-year students' opinions and experiences of alcohol consumption. Themes gleaned from the interpretation were awareness, physical location of the campus, economic opportunities, health considerations, identity, belief in alcohol use, and interventions.
The results indicate that first-year students have varying opinions and experiences concerning alcohol consumption at the University of Limpopo (Medunsa campus). Social identity and peer pressure are motivating factors in students' use of alcohol.


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