Do physicians drink too much coffee? Study breaks down consumption by specialty

By their own admission, physicians and nurses drink more coffee than engineers, teachers, scientists, machine operators and government workers. Nearly half of Americans admit to feeling less productive without it, and existing literature reflects that clinicians aren't drinking coffee for the taste, but for its stimulant properties. Some hospitals around the world, such as Queensland Health in Australia, suggest staff use coffee as a tool to stay alert on the job. Queensland even suggests a recommended dosage: 400 mg per day — equivalent to about six cups of coffee. But are most healthcare workers drinking that much?

Researchers attempted to answer this question by looking at one full year's worth of purchasing habits at a large teaching hospital in Switzerland. They analyzed the coffee purchasing habits of 766 medical professionals and found that 84 percent of them purchased coffee in a hospital cafeteria at least one time in 2014, and overall they consumed 70,772 cups. The study, aptly titled "Black Medicine," is published in the British Medical Journal.

Orthopedic surgeons drank the most coffee, followed by radiologists, general surgeons, neurosurgeons, neurologists, internists, gynecologists and anesthetists, according to the paper. Other findings included men drink more coffee than women and older clinicians were more likely to consume more than younger clinicians. The study also looked at generosity when it came to purchasing coffee and found older coffee buyers were more likely to buy a round for their colleagues.

The paper notes the health effects of coffee are up for debate and the results may not be applicable to all institutions and countries. According to 2014 data, the U.S. comes in at No. 16 on a list of nations that consume the most coffee and Switzerland comes in at No. 14, only two notches apart.

This post was updated Jan. 4, 2016 at 1:00 p.m.

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