A disturbingly high prevalence of self-reported drinking and driving has been found among Spanish health professionals. Published today in BMC Public Health, the study reveals that Spanish doctors and nurses are self-reporting drink driving at even higher rates than other university graduates.

"The role of these health professionals in educating the population regarding the health consequences of drinking and of drinking and driving has been long advocated. Yet their capability to do so may be impaired due to their own lifestyles", write the authors, María Seguí-Gómez and colleagues, from the Department of Preventive Medicine at Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain.

Female nurses and doctors and male nurses were all 1.2 times as likely to drink drive as non-health workers. Male doctors were even less responsible, being twice as likely to drive as non-health workers.

The questionnaire included questions concerning current drinking and driving practices as part of the "Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra" study, a multipurpose cohort survey of graduates from Spanish universities.

The study, which started in 1999, asked participants questions relating to demographics, health and lifestyle habits, followed up with twice yearly questionnaires. Participants were also asked whether they drove, and how often they had driven while drunk.

Results from 16,171 graduates show that 30% of participants reported "sometimes" drinking and driving, with the numbers increasing to 47 % when those answering "almost never" were included. Almost 2/3 of men reported "sometimes" or "almost never" drink driving, compared to just over 1/3 of women. The authors found that drinking and driving were related to other unsafe practices, including binge drinking, drinking daily, not wearing seat belts and being a former smoker.

Self-reported drinking and driving amongst educated adults in Spain: The Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) cohort findings. Maria Segui-Gomez, Silvia Palma, Francisco Guillen-Grima, Jokin de Irala and Miguel A. Martinez-Gonzalez BMC Public Health