Self-Medication Practices In Addis Ababa: A Prospective Study

  • Tenaw Andualem
  • Tsige Gebre-Mariam


BACKGROUND: Self-care is a response of individuals to promote or restore their health. Self-medication, one form of self-care, it is the selection and use of medicines by individuals to treat self-recognized illnesses or symptoms of illnesses. Although there are arguments for and against self-medication, its contribution in the promotion of health is beyond doubt. This study deals with self-medication on modern drugs and it attempts to assess self-medication practices of drug consumers. METHODS: A multi-stage stratified sampling of drug retail outlets in Addis Ababa was employed. Convenient sampling was used to select respondents from among those who came to the community pharmacies to purchase drugs for self-medication. Respondents were interviewed after they made their requests but before they were provided with information on the drugs they requested. Data were collected using a pre-tested semistructured questionnaire. RESULTS: Socio-demographic characteristics of respondents revealed that drug consumers consisted of all age categories of both genders; as well as pregnant and breast-feeding mothers of varying educational background levels. The most frequently reported illnesses that prompted self-medication of respondents were gastrointestinal diseases, headache, fever and respiratory tract infections. Slightly greater than 30% of illnesses/symptoms of illnesses were less than 24 hours and around one-fifth, one or more weeks of duration. The most common reasons reported for self-diagnosis and selfmedication were non-seriousness of the disease, emergency use and prior experience on the drug. Two-thirds of the drug consumers requested drugs by specifically mentioning the name of the drug or category to which it belongs and 20.7% by telling their illness or symptoms of illnesses. More than 100 different types of drugs were requested, the most frequent category of drugs being analgesics or antipyretics 30.1%, antimicrobials (26.4%) and gastrointestinal drugs (17.7%). CONCLUSION: Self-medication is widely practised for a wide range of illnesses or symptoms of illnesses, and for both over-the-counter and prescription only drugs. The public as well as the health care providers have to be educated on the scopes of selfmedication; i.e., the type of illnesses to be self-diagnosed and self-treated, and the type of drug products to be used in order to promote responsible self-medication.

Ethiop J Health Sci. Vol. 14, No. 1 January 2004

Author Biographies

Tenaw Andualem
School of Pharmacy, Addis Ababa University, P. O. Box: 25616 Code 1000, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tsige Gebre-Mariam
School of Pharmacy, Addis Ababa University, P. O. Box: 25616 Code 1000, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1029-1857
print ISSN: 1029-1857