Open Access Gateway
Med Princ Pract 2006;15:270–275

Evaluation of the Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Self-Medication among First-Year Medical Students

James H. · Handu S.S. · Al Khaja K.A.J. · Otoom S. · Sequeira R.P.
Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Arabian Gulf University, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
email Corresponding Author

 goto top of outline Key Words

  • Self-medication
  • Medical students
  • Self-care
  • Health policy

 goto top of outline Abstract

Objective: This study was undertaken to determine the knowledge, attitude and practice of self-medication among first-year medical students of the Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain. Subjects and Methods: This was an anonymous, questionnaire-based, descriptive study. A prevalidated questionnaire, containing open-ended and close-ended questions, was administered to the subjects. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 12 and the results expressed as counts and percentages. Results: Out of the 134 respondents, 43 (32.1%) were males and 91 (67.9%) were females; their mean age in years ± SD was 18.01 ± 0.78. The respondents’ knowledge about appropriate self-medication was poor, but knowledge of the benefits and risks of self-medication was adequate. The respondents found self-medication to be time-saving, economical, convenient and providing quick relief in common illnesses. Important disadvantages of self-medication mentioned were the risk of making a wrong diagnosis, inappropriate drug use and adverse effects. The majority (76.9%) of the respondents had a positive attitude favoring self-medication. Self-medication was practiced by 44.8% of the subjects. The most common indications for self-medication were to relieve the symptoms of headache (70.9%), cough, cold and sore throat (53.7%), stomachache (32.8%) and fever (29.9%). Analgesics (81.3%) were the most common drugs used for self-medication. The practice of self-medication was appropriate in only 14.2% of cases. Conclusion: Knowledge about appropriate self-medication was poor, attitude towards self-medication was positive, and the practice of self-medication was common and often inappropriate.

Copyright © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

 goto top of outline References
  1. Hughes CM, McElnay JC, Fleming GF: Benefits and risks of self medication. Drug Saf 2001;24:1027–1037.
  2. Porteous T, Bond C, Hannaford P, Sinclair H: How and why are non-prescription analgesics used in Scotland? Fam Pract 2005;22:78–85.
  3. World Health Organization: The role of the pharmacist in self-care and self-medication. Report of the 4th WHO Consultative Group on the role of the pharmacist in health care system 1998. pdf.
  4. Geissler PW, Nokes K, Prince RJ, Achieng RO, Aagaard-Hansen J, Ouma JH: Children and medicines: self-treatment of common illnesses among Luo school children in western Kenya. Soc Sci Med 2000;50:1771–1783.
  5. Kiyingi KS, Lauwo JAK: Drugs in home: danger and waste. World Health Forum 1993;14:381–384.
  6. Clavinjo HA: Self-medication during pregnancy. World Health Forum 1995;16:403–404.
  7. World Health Organization: Report of the WHO Expert Committee on National Drug Policies 1995. shtml.
  8. Kafle KK, Gartulla RP: Self-medication and its impact on essential drugs schemes in Nepal: a sociocultural research project 1993.
  9. Montastruc JL, Bagheri H, Geraud T, Lapeyre MM: Pharmacovigilance of self-medication. Therapie 1997;52:105–110.
  10. Hebeeb GE, Gearhart JG: Common patient symptoms: patterns of self-treatment and prevention. J Miss State Med Assoc 1993;34:179–181.

    External Resources

  11. Martins AP, Miranda AC, Mendes Z, Soares MA, Ferreira P, Nogueira A: Self-medication in a Portuguese urban population: a prevalence study. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf 2002;11:409–414.
  12. Shankar PR, Partha P, Shenoy N: Self-medication and non-doctor prescription practices in Pokhara valley, Western Nepal: a questionnaire-based study. BMC Family Practice 2002;3:17.
  13. Hughes CM: Monitoring self-medication. Expert Opin Drug Saf 2003;2:1–5.
  14. Al Khaja KAJ, Handu SS, James H, Mathur VS, Sequeira RP: Assessing prescription writing skills of pre-clerkship medical students in a problem-based learning curriculum. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 2005;43:429–435.
  15. Abahussain E, Matowe LK, Nicholls PJ: Self-reported medication use among adolescents in Kuwait. Med Princ Pract 2005;14:161–164.
  16. Stewart MA: Effective physician-patient communication and health outcomes: a review. Can Med Assoc J 1996;152:1423–1433.
  17. Obermeyer CM, Schulein M, Hardon A, Sievert LL, Price K, Santiago AC, Lazacano O, Kirumira EK, Neuman M: Gender and medication use: an exploratory, multi-site study. Women Health 2004;39:57–73.
  18. Vedrana AV, Vladimir T, Zdravko L: Content of home pharmacies and self-medication practices in households of pharmacy and medical students in Zagreb, Croatia: findings in 2001 with a reference to 1977. Croat Med J 2005;46:74–80.

    External Resources

 goto top of outline Author Contacts

Dr. Henry James
Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics
College of Medicine and Medical Sciences
Arabian Gulf University, PO Box 22979, Manama (Kingdom of Bahrain)
Tel. +973 1723 9841, Fax +973 1727 1090, E-Mail

 goto top of outline Article Information

Received: July 26, 2005
Accepted: November 20, 2005
Number of Print Pages : 6
Number of Figures : 1, Number of Tables : 3, Number of References : 18

 goto top of outline Publication Details

Medical Principles and Practice (International Journal of the Kuwait University Health Sciences Centre)

Vol. 15, No. 4, Year 2006 (Cover Date: June 2006)

Journal Editor: Al-Zaid, N.S. (Kuwait)
ISSN: 1011–7571 (print), 1423–0151 (Online)

For additional information:

Open Access License / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer

Open Access License: This is an Open Access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC) (, applicable to the online version of the article only. Distribution permitted for non-commercial purposes only.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.