Objectives Although fatal accidents caused by alcohol-related harassment occur frequently among college students, this issue has not been adequately examined. This study set out to investigate the prevalence of alcohol-related harassment among medical students in Japan.Methods A multi-institutional, cross-sectional survey was carried out across seven medical schools in Japan. A self-report anonymous questionnaire was distributed to 1152 medical students; 951 respondents (82.6%) satisfactorily completed it. From the responses, we determined the reported prevalences of the following types of alcohol-related harassment among medical students by senior medical students or doctors: (i) being coerced into drinking alcohol; (ii) being compelled to drink an alcoholic beverage all at once (the ikki drinking game); (iii) being deliberately forced to drink until unconscious, and (iv) being subjected to verbal abuse, physical abuse or sexual harassment in relation to alcohol. The prevalence of becoming a harasser among medical students was also measured. Multivariate regressions were used to assess the associations between experiences of alcohol-related harassment and student characteristics.Results A total of 821 respondents (86.3%) had experienced alcohol-related harassment and 686 (72.1%) had harassed others. Experiences of the ikki drinking game were frequently reported by both victims (n = 686, 72.1% of all respondents) and harassers (n = 595, 62.6% of all respondents). In multivariate regression, having an experience of alcohol-related harassment correlated with both being harassed (odds ratio [OR] 14.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] 8.73-23.98) and being a harasser (OR 13.19, 95% CI 8.05-22.34). The pres-ence of senior members of medical college clubs who were regular drinkers also correlated with both being harassed (OR 2.96, 95% CI 1.88-4.67) and being a harasser (OR 2.97, 95% CI 2.06-4.27).Conclusions Alcohol-related harassment among medical students is common and tends to occur at drinking parties with senior college club members. Hence, one of the most important strategies for preventing alcohol-related harassment may be to disrupt this vicious cycle.
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