Inappropriate self-medication can have major impacts on health. The aim of the study was to describe the prevalence and characteristics of self-medication behaviours among undergraduate and postgraduate students from various academic sectors. We also sought to identify determinants of inappropriate self-medication.
We performed a descriptive, cross-sectional study based on a self-questionnaire filled out by students from various academic sectors at the University of Picardy (Amiens, France). The survey comprised four sections: sociodemographic characteristics, health status, self-medication behaviour (including the names of medications taken), and knowledge about medications and the risks associated with self-medication. Inappropriate self-medication was defined as the reported administration of a prescription-only medication without a current prescription.
A total of 1257 students (715 from the health sector and 542 from other sectors; 983 [78.2%] women) completed the survey. In all, 1194 (95%) students reported self-medication. The most reported reason for self-medication was a supposed good knowledge of medications. The most frequently administered drug classes were analgesics (n=736, 46.7%), and anti-inflammatories/antirheumatics (n=299, 19%). In all, 51.7% (n=617) of the self-medicating students used a medicine from an old prescription including prescription-only drugs (mostly analgesics, antibiotics, and anxiolytics). Female sex, studying for a healthcare degree, having a chronic disease, smoking, having a healthcare professional in the family, and stress were all independently associated with inappropriate self-medication behaviours.
Our results showed that self-medication in general and the use of old prescription-only medications in particular are frequent among French university students. At-risk situations identification might facilitate the implementation of educational actions.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Self-medication, Student, Prescription medication, Health care, Stress