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Original Research

Patterns, perception, and practice of self-medication with antibiotics among medical undergraduate students

Somashekara S C, Srikanth, Suraj B, Hooli Tanuja V.


Background: Self-medication with antibiotics (SMA) has turned out to be a common practice worldwide and is widespread in developing nations like India. Self-medication in medical students is different when compared to general population, as they have a good knowledge about diseases and drugs, obtained from textbooks, colleagues, drug indices, etc., and being a medical student, drugs can be acquired easily. There are various studies conducted on nursing, medical, and university students, but there are very few studies conducted in this region.

Aims and Objectives: The present study was conducted to know patterns, perception and practice of SMA in medical students.

Materials and Methods: The present study was a questionnaire-based, cross-sectional study. The study was conducted in April 2017 at a Medical College in South India. The information was collected on demographic characteristics, reasons for SMA, indications for the use of antibiotics, drug/drug group of antibiotics used, reasons for not consulting a health-care professional, and sources of information about antibiotics. The results are described using frequency and percentage.

Results: In the present study, 81.6% of the students had taken an antibiotic in the past 1 year. Most common conditions for which students used SMA were for upper respiratory tract infections (62.1%), fever (60.5%), and gastrointestinal infections (51.3%). The most common self-medicated antibiotics were ampicillin (57.2%) ciprofloxacin (49.7%) and metronidazole (46.4%). Most common reasons of SMA were, students considered SMA as less expensive when compared to doctor prescription (55.6%), illness not considered serious (49.7%) and lack of time to visit the hospital (47%). The most common source of information of antibiotic was from a previous prescription (49.7%) and the drug store (pharmacist) (36.7%).

Conclusion: The present study found a high prevalence of SMA among medical undergraduate students. Special emphasis should be given in teaching medical students about the disadvantages of irrational self-medication particularly in relation to the emergence of drug resistance. Pharmacists should not dispense antibiotics without a valid prescription. At the policy‑making and regulatory level, there is a need for strict legislation and enforcement of law so as to restrict access to an antibiotic, along with vigorous monitoring system will help in promoting rational antibiotic usage.

Key words: Antibiotics; Drug resistance; Rational use; Self-medication

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