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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLES
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 189-195

Self-medication practice and health-seeking behavior among medical students during COVID 19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study


Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Ratlam- 457001, Madhya Pradesh, India

Date of Submission14-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance24-May-2022
Date of Web Publication17-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Konika Jain
Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Ratlam- 457001, Madhya Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/mgmj.mgmj_107_21

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  Abstract 

Introduction: Self-medication practice (SMP), is the one element of self-care, the use of medication without the prescription of medical professionals for the treatment of self-recognized illnesses. (E.g., resubmitting old prescriptions, sharing medication with relatives/family members, or using leftover medications) This study aims to determine the prevalence of self-medication practice and health-seeking behavior among medical students during the Covid 19 pandemic. Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study on self-medication practice. A total of 510 MBBS students at Government Medical College, Ratlam were enrolled in the study taking care of inclusion criteria. Data was collected on a pre-designed semi-structured questionnaire through Google forms and was analyzed using Epi info (CDC version 6). Result: Out of 510 MBBS students, 394 students responded to fill the form with an overall response rate of 77%. Self-medication practice in the preceding 6 months amongst MBBS students was 291 (73.85%). There is a significant association between self-medication practice with age, gender, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd year of MBBS. Health-seeking behavior among students was found to be 26.14%. Conclusion: Self-medication practice is widely prevalent amongst MBBS students, especially during the Covid pandemic. Approx. 74% of MBBS Students practiced self-medication in the preceding 6 months.

Keywords: Health seeking behavior, medical students, self-medication practice


How to cite this article:
Likhar S, Jain K, Kot LS. Self-medication practice and health-seeking behavior among medical students during COVID 19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study. MGM J Med Sci 2022;9:189-95

How to cite this URL:
Likhar S, Jain K, Kot LS. Self-medication practice and health-seeking behavior among medical students during COVID 19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study. MGM J Med Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jul 6];9:189-95. Available from: http://www.mgmjms.com/text.asp?2022/9/2/189/347697




  Introduction Top


Self-medication practice (SMP), is the one element of self-care, the use of medication without the prescription of medical professionals for the treatment of self-recognized illnesses. (E.g., resubmitting old prescriptions, sharing medication with relatives/family members, or using leftover medications).[1] Globally, the prevalence of SMP is inconsistent ranging from 32.5 to 81.5%.[2] Self-medication practice influences the healthcare-seeking behavior of individuals. It leads to wastage of resources, and delay in diagnosis of problems and appropriate treatments. It can also lead to serious health hazards and adverse drug reactions. There are some factors responsible for the practice of self-medication like lack of health facilities nearby, the urge for self-care, sympathy, poverty, lack of awareness, etc. People practice self-medication for various reasons and in various ways. Self-medication may include an advertisement of drugs in case of a cold, availability of some drugs without a prescription in a pharmacy, availability of drugs at home, and through an internet search.[3]

In regards to self-care, substances used to self-medicate include but are not limited to over-the-counter (OTC) medications, nutritional supplements, and other non-prescription medications. The number of OTC medications has increased significantly, allowing more individuals to practice self-medication.[4] Doctors are very well known to treat and investigate themselves without taking other doctors’ opinions. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment are common behavior among medical students also. They are the most prone groups to practice self-medication recurrently. In India, the prevalence of self-medication practices among students varies from 74.6% and 69.4%, respectively.[5]

Healthcare-seeking behavior (HSB) has been defined as, “any action or inaction undertaken by individuals who perceive themselves to have a health problem or to be ill to find an appropriate remedy.

This study aims to determine the prevalence of self-medication practice and health-seeking behavior amongst MBBS students during the Covid 19 pandemic.


  Materials and methods Top


After obtaining approval from the Institutional ethical committee a cross-sectional study was carried out on MBBS students of Government Medical College, Ratlam. Considering inclusion criteria i.e., all medical students who were willing to participate in the study and those who were practicing self-medication were enrolled.

A total of 510 MBBS students fulfilled the inclusion criteria in the study. Data was collected on a pre-designed semi-structured questionnaire through Google forms. The questionnaire consisted of both close-ended and open-ended questions. Data were analyzed using Epi info (CDC version 6). Collected data were summarized using descriptive and inferential statistics and later presented in tables, graphs, percentages, and cross-tabulation. The confidentiality of study participants was strictly maintained with an anonymous questionnaire.


  Results Top


Demographic characteristics

A total of 510 MBBS students were enrolled in the study taking care of inclusion criteria’s out of those, 394MBBS students participated in the study making a response rate of 77%. It was observed that out of all study participants, 77 were from the 3rd year, 164 were from the 2nd year and 153 forms were from MBBS 1st year. The study participants mainly included females203 (51.5%) [Table 1], [Figure 1]. The majority of students i.e., 328 MBBS students (83.24%) felt sick for at least one time in the last six months and the most common symptom presented was cough in 30.5% followed by fever in 11.9% [Table 2]. In our study majority, 43.65%of students followed allopathy followed by 8.12% homeopathy and Ayurveda in 7.86% and mixed pathy in 11.42%.
Table 1: Demographic profile of participants

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Figure 1: Gender distribution

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Table 2: Symptoms in the last 6 months

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Opinion for selection of medication and obtaining medicine

While practicing self-medication, the majority of students 18.52% selected medicines by their own opinion, followed by 17.76% of students using previous doctor prescriptions for similar symptoms, 13.95% took opinions from family members, 11.42% of students through any guideline, Television or the internet. Medicines used for self-medication were obtained by students in 52.03%from medical stores (over the counter), 9.64% from medicine leftover at home, and 5.32% from students taken from a health care facility. Antibiotics were mostly used for relieving their symptoms in 53.04% of students.

Consideration while practicing self-medication

While practicing self-medication, 34.51% of students look for the type of medicine being used followed by indication for use of the drug in 22.84%, adverse drug effects in 12.4%, and brand of medicine in 4.06%. About 65.48% of students responded that they check instructions while taking medication and follow it. While practicing self-medication majority of students consulted books 39.54% for dosage of medicine followed by 18.52% checked on the package. It was observed that 48.47% of students never change the dosage of medicine and never switch medicine during the course while practicing self-medication.

Prevalence and reason for self-medication practices: In the study, the prevalence of self-medication practice among MBBS students was 73.85%. The main reason for self-medication practices was convenience (23.09%), the intention of getting quick relief/ for emergency use (21.06%) followed by trust in their prescription (20.8%), cost-saving (5.83%) [Table 3], [Figure 2].
Table 3: Self-medication practice among MBBS students and factors

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Figure 2: Reason for self-medication

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Association between demographic details and self-medication practice

It was observed that there was a significant association between self-medication practice with age (11.886, P = 0.003, gender (9.207, P = 0.002), and MBBS year (6.527, P = 0.038) as shown in [Table 4].
Table 4: Association between demographic details and self-medication practice

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Heath-seeking behavior among medical students: It was found that health-seeking behavior among students during covid 19 was very low at 26.14%. It was also observed reasons for not seeking help were lack of time (38.5%), fear(7.3%), where to go (11.6%), and whom to contact(16.24%). It was also found that among those who sought help from a doctor (3.2) internet (2.5) family member (9.3%) and friend (10.9%) as shown in [Table 5].
Table 5: Health seeking behavior among medical students

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  Discussion Top


Good health is a fundamental requirement of life. An efficient and effective health care environment is key for the prosperity of a community. Self-medication is one of the factors which defines health status. Unvalidated use of medications leads to an economic burden, and drug resistance leads to an increase in morbidities. However, responsible self-medication includes using over-the-counter (OTC) and relatively low-risk drugs to treat self-diagnosed disorders or symptoms,[6] which can prevent mild illnesses and thereby reduce health care financial costs.

Our study aims to focus on MBBS medical students, in them self-medication practice is very common due to knowledge of a variety of medicines and pharmacokinetics. We found a prevalence of 73.85% among MBBS medical students in our medical college which was comparable with other studies conducted in different areas of the country (Maharashtra 71.7,[7] Karnataka 78.6,[8] West Bengal 57.05,[9] JK 81[10] and Kerala 64.9.[11] A similar study among medical students around the world reported a prevalence in Egypt at 55.2,[12] Iran at 57.1,[13] Ethiopia at 38.5,[14] Slovenia at 92.3,[15] Serbia at 79.9,[16] Spain 45,[17] Germany 8[18] and France 17.[19] There appears a wide variation in prevalence among developed and developing countries which may be due to well-structured health care systems and the non-availability of medicines without prescription in developed nations.

Prevalence of self-medication reported among non-medical students varied from 87%[20] to 80.13%[21]which shows equivocal prevalence. However, this may not be the true picture as there are very few studies with non-healthcare persons.

In our study female preponderance was seen in the pattern of self-medication which is similar to other studies around the world.[7],[12],[13],[22] Among the use of various systems of medicine, our study showed higher use of allopathic medicine followed by traditional systems of medicine. However, few participants preferred mixopathy. These findings are consistent with other studies.[10],[20],[23]

We found the main reason for self-medication practices was convenience (23.09%), the intention of getting quick relief/ for emergency use (21.06%) followed by trust in their prescription (20.8%), cost-saving (5.83%). Other studies have also revealed that the most common reason for self-medication was a previous experience, lack of time to consult health professionals, and being cost-effective..[24],[25],[26],[27]

In our study, we found the use of antibiotics was widely prevalent among responders which shows an alarming picture. Widespread use of antibiotics without evaluation of need leads to microbial resistance, economic burden, and an array of side effects that may become debilitating further hampering quality of life. This practice needs focused attention and need to be curtailed for the greater good. The easy availability of medicines from medical stores has been reported as a reason for widespread use in our study.

We also found that health-seeking behavior among medical students during covid 19 was very low at 26.14% as compared to self-medication practice among students in a study where their prevalence of health-seeking behavior was 77.2%.[28] Among them who sought help for their symptoms very few consulted doctors (3.2%). Among those who did not seek help, lack of time (38.5%), fear (7.3%), and whom to contact (16.2%) were the reason.


  Conclusion Top


We studied the behavior of students for self-medication and found that the majority of them used either textbooks or previous doctor’s prescriptions for finding a drug and its dose. However, students resorted to instruction leaflets for intake instructions. Majority of students adhered to the dosage instructions and did not change medication during the course which shows good practice behavior among students.

This study highlights the self-medication practice and its alarming pattern widely prevalent among medical students which are validated by other studies. Self-medication with half-baked knowledge is very dangerous and proper guidance is the need of the hour. This study also highlights that health-seeking behavior among medical students is very low, especially during a covid pandemic. In the present scenario, we suggest robust public awareness campaigns and strict enforcement of drug regulations to prevent the use of prescription drugs in an unauthorized way. College students irrespective of study field should be made aware of the pros and cons of self-medication and health-seeking behavior.

Ethical consideration

The institutional ethics committee, Government Medical College, Ratlam- 457001, Madhya Pradesh, India has approved the proposal to undertake the research study on “Self-medication Practice among medical students during Covid 19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study” vide their letter no. GMC Ratlam/2021/IEC/Approval/03 dated 3rd March 2021.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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