Journalists and Substance Use: A systematic literature review


Background: Journalists’ exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTEs), high levels of job stress, and anecdotal reports within the industry seem to suggest that journalists are at greater risk than the general population to experience substance use disorders. The present systematic literature review (SLR) aims to provide a concise, comprehensive, and systematic review of the quantitative literature relating to journalists’ experience of substance use. Methods: The systematic review method adopted within the present study was based on that prescribed by Fink in the 2010 book, Conducting systematic literature reviews: From the internet to paper, 3rd ed., which contains three main elements: sampling the literature, screening the literature, and extracting data. Results: Alcohol consumption is the most widely studied substance in journalist samples and is discussed in relation to quantity, level of risk, and potential alcoholism. The review also considers journalists’ use of substances, including cigarettes, cannabis, and other illicit substances. In particular, comparisons are made between journalistic roles and gender. Conclusions: The research is piecemeal in nature, in that more recent research does not build upon the research that has come before it. Much of what has been reported does not reflect the progress that has taken place in recent years within the alcohol consumption and substance use field in terms of theory, assessment, scale development, practice, and interventions with those who use or are addicted to various substances. This SLR raises a number of methodological and theoretical issues to be explored and addressed in future research.


MacDonald, J. B., Saliba A. J., & Hodgins, G. (2016). Journalists and substance use: A systematic literature review. Substance Abuse, 37(3), 402–411. DOI: 10.1080/08897077.2015.1101732