The word medication means use of medicines for
treatment of ailments. Medicines should be used after consulting a doctor,
according to symptoms of illness. Self medication is a kind of self care . However the major difference in
Self-medication & self care is that it uses medications that may cure
ailments or produces harm . In our society, it is a common practice
to treat most illnesses by self medication. Self medication is very common in
medical students (pharmacists, doctors, nurses) [3, 4, 5]. Self medication is a
term used to describe a situation in which a person takes medicine without any
prescription to treat his undiagnosed disorder .
Self-medication is defined as purchasing and using medication without
professional prescription . Self medication even for minor illnesses could
lead to any kind of serious complication. A list of drugs which are most
commonly irrationally used in our society as pain relievers, anti-allergies, cough
remedies, laxatives, antibiotics, antacids and vitamins are sold OTC
(over-the-counter) . Complications which may arise due to self medications
are allergy, antibiotic resistance, kidney impairment, dependency etc. As excessive
use of vitamins could lead to vitamin poisoning and a lot of risks are
associated with use of analgesics in Self medication practice . As far as
its prevalence is concerned, it has high rate all over the world. It has high
prevalence rate that is ranging from 32.5- 81.5% .self medication
prevalence rate in developing countries is
alarming that is 92% , prevalence rate in European countries is 68 %  and in our neighboring countries like in India
and Nepal are 31 % & 59 %  respectively. In terms of self
medication prevalence in Pakistan,
sufficient data is not available but information that has been collected from
relevant studies indicate 51% prevalence rate in Pakistan .
Self medication can be attributed by the following factors
i.e. socio-economic factors, socio-demographic, easy accessibility of drugs in
developing countries, pharmaceutical advertisement; previous medical history,
left over medicine at home.Moreover an emerging source is internet in most
On the other hand self medication can also have a
positive impact on healthcare if it follows guidelines issued by WHO as it
reduce workload on medical services, help to treat self limiting minor
illnesses and cost saving .
In Pakistan most
of the medicines including antibiotics and a lot of controlled drugs are
available without prescription from medical store to layman . This can lead
to number of serious complications & harms, as layman is unaware of drug’s
lethal effects. Only few studies have been
conducted on self medication in Pakistan
and no program has been initiated by our health care system to give awareness
about harms related to self medication. No data is
available on the present status of self-medication practices among
students of Sargodha University,
Pakistan which our study aimed to generate. The aim of our
study is to measure prevalence rate, determine the contributing factors,
awareness and practice of self medication among the students of Sargodha University, Pakistan.
Study area and period:
was conducted in main campus of Sargodha
The University of Sargodha was established since 2002 and is amongst
the higher rank universities of Pakistan.
It encompasses faculties of pharmacy, art, social sciences, biological
sciences, health sciences, information technology, Management and
Administrative Sciences and engineering and many other departments. The study
was conducted in the period from the beginning of January 2013 to April 2013.
descriptive cross sectional study
By convenience sampling method, 320 students having Sargodha university
registration were selected from common rooms and cafeterias of different
faculties of main campus. All those students who were not registered were not
included in this study.
A pretested study questionnaire was taken from
studies previously conducted in same field [11, 17]. It was in English language
and composed of three basic parts. First part dealt with demographic details of
participants, 2nd part dealt with prevalence and practice of self-medication
and third part dealt with participant’s attitude towards self medication.
participants were informed about study objectives before data collection, and
then sought their consents and questionnaires were filled only by those who
were willing to fill it.
analysis and interpretation:
analysis was conducted by calculating means and proportions for data chi square
test were used for inferential analysis to identify relation amongst variables.
Analysis was done by SPSS software package. To determine the association
between variables 0.05 significance level was used. The results were shown in
absolute figures as depicted in Figures and Charts.
93.7% response rate was obtained based on the fact
that out of 320 students, 300 students completely and accurately filled and
and department of participants is shown in figure 1.that depicts us that
90(30%) were males and 210(70%) were females. The age of 171 (57%) participants was in range of
18 – 21 years and the remaining were in range of 21 – 25 years .In terms of
department 37% participants from pharmacy department and 30%,13%,10% and 10%
from chemistry, psychology, IT and biological sciences department respectively.
Figure 1: Sociodemographic
characteristics of study participants
The prevalence rate of self
medication in study participants was found up to 83% that is 249/300 as shown
in FIG 2. 17% (51) participants never self medicate themselves. Whereas 13 %(
39) participants rarely consume medications w/o prescription.
Figure 2: Frequency of self-medication among
Most common illnesses that led to practice self
medication in participants were headache, cough, fever, common cold,
constipation, diarrhea, dyspepsia, skin problems, dysmenorrheal, other pains, insomnia, anxiety
and for many other situations with a prevalence rate of 82%, 66%, 70%, 87%,
52%, 60%, 37%, 30%, 32%, 56%, 83%, 37%, 45% and 25% respectively(FIG 3).Hence
High prevalence rates of self medication were seen in conditions of common
cold, headache and other pains.
Figure 3: conditions which led to practice self
Due to multiple responses, total value
doesn’t add to 100%
In self medication practice, the most commonly used
drugs were paracetamol (about 83% of participants used this drug), 67% participants used other NSAIDS, 60%
participants used vitamins, antibiotics (50%), antihistaminic (48%), &
hypnotics (19%), homeopathic (12%), GIT drugs(26%) and others (8%) were used less frequently by
Figuer 4: Most common drugs used in self medication
Due to multiple responses, total value
doesn’t add to 100%
Figure 5 depicted the basic reasons which led
towards self medication practice were high consultation cost (75%), minor
illness cases(93%), having experience with same medicine previously (70%), time
shortage (59%), friend’s advice to take medicine (77%) and also 48%
participants indulge in this practice due to easily availability of all drugs
from drug stores w/ prescription , 59% found it convenient to use this practice
and 75% (225) participants had no awareness about complications of medicines that are consumed w/o
FIG 5: Factors which led towards self medication
Due to multiple responses, total value
doesn’t add to 100%
This study demonstrates that prevalence rate of self
medication practice is up to 83% amongst Sargodha
university students. In many developing countries including
every pharmacy sells drugs without a prescription . Since there has
not been conducted any study on national level to assess overall prevalence of
self-medication practice in Pakistan.
So comparison is not possible. However the information that has been collected
from relevant studies indicate 51% prevalence rate in Pakistan .
According to a letter Self-medication was reported in 7.1% of cases as compared
to urban areas at 2.6% 
& a study conducted in Spain
demonstrated that self-medication prevalence was higher among those with higher
educational levels A study in
university students of Karachi has found self medication prevalence rate up to
76%  and a study on Self-Medication
of Anti-Biotic Amongst University Students of Islamabad assessed prevalence
rate up to 77%  and
another study on Self medication among university students of Islamabad
depicted 41% prevalence . From the data of our study, we found that
there was no prominent difference of self medication practice in males and
females and in different age groups and among different departments. These results differ from a previously
conducted study among medical students, it showed higher prevalence among
female students than male students  &
self-medication prevalence was found to be higher among those with high educational
According to a study excessive use of symptomatic headache medications can induce
medication overuse headache, it is the third common diagnosis of headache in
primary care settings  and in our study about 83% participants self
medicate them with paracetamol and other analgesics. As development of antibiotic resistance due to
irrational use of medicines is very serious issue in health care system. It is required to seize the antibiotics
sale without any prescription . In one study conducted in Sudan, about 73.9% of the study population had used antibiotics without
prescription  while in our study
about 50% participants used antibiotics irrationally that is alarming as well.
The basic reasons which led
towards self medication practice were high consultation cost (75%), similar
results were found by previously conducted study that majority of participants
self medicate themselves due to high cost of
treatment at private hospitals, minor illness cases(93%), having
experience with same medicine previously (70%) , time shortage (59%),
friend’s advice to take medicine (77%) and also 48% participants indulge in
this practice due to easily availability of all drugs from drug stores without
prescription , 59% found it convenient to use this practice and 75% (N=225)
participants had no awareness about complications of medicines that are consumed w/o
develop such system in our country which strictly deals with these drugs &
ensures that these drugs should only be available on producing prescription.
Another step which we can take is to reduce the consultation fee, so that every
individual can have access to doctors. Awareness programs should be initiated
which discourages the irrational use of medicines in terms of self medication.
There are certain limitations of our study that
are the convenience sampling, limited
population selected, Inclusion of educated youth only, study based on self
reported data(depends upon participants will),and limited sample size. It is worthily noted that the
participants of our study were educated enough to know the harms that are
related to self medication practice, so it’s obvious that the prevalence rate
may be much higher in illiterate community.
depicts the importance of need of further work done in this field on larger
scale in our country and highlights the issues associated with self medication.
This topic should not be ignored. Prevalence rate of self medication is
alarming in university students. Thus further work should be done on larger
scale and strict policies should be intimated to address this problem and give
awareness to individuals about medication use.
The authors would like to thank their teachers, friends, and
students for participating in this study.
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