In an editorial also accompanying the study, Dr. Edward Livingston, a professor of surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, re-emphasized the reservations with survey accuracy addressed by the study authors.
"You really can't interpret too much from this," Livingston said. "The response rate was just really, really low. Most statisticians agree that out of 100 surveys you have to have 60 or more responses for the findings to be reliable. That's 60 percent. And here you have a 29 percent response. Which is understandable, since the ramifications are so great for a physician who is found to have a drinking problem," he pointed out.
"In fact," Livingston added, "one possibility is that the problem is even greater than they've found. So what we might have here is really an underreporting of the situation."
For more on alcohol abuse, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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