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Self-medication of antibiotics: investigating practice among university students at the Malaysian National Defence University

Authors Haque M, Rahman NAA, McKimm J, Kibria GM, Azim Majumder MA, Haque SZ, Islam MZ, Binti Abdullah SL, Daher AM, Zulkifli Z, Rahman S, Kabir R, Lutfi SNNB, Aishah Binti Othman NS

Received 29 January 2019

Accepted for publication 25 March 2019

Published 17 May 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 1333—1351


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Joachim Wink

Video abstract presented by Siti Nur Najihah Binti Lufti.

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Mainul Haque,1 Nor Azlina A Rahman,2 Judy McKimm,3 Golam Mohammad Kibria,1 Md Anwarul Azim Majumder,4 Seraj Zohurul Haque,5 Md Zakirul Islam,6 Shahidah Leong Binti Abdullah,1 Aqil Mohammad Daher,1 Zainal Zulkifli,7 Sayeeda Rahman,8 Russell Kabir,9 Siti Nur Najihah Binti Lutfi,1 Nur Syamirah Aishah Binti Othman1

1Faculty of Medicine and Defence Health, Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (National Defence University of Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur, 57000, Malaysia; 2Department of Physical Rehabilitation Sciences, Kulliyyah of Allied Health Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuantan, 25200, Malaysia; 3Swansea University School of Medicine, Grove Building, Swansea University, Swansea, Wales, SA2 8PP, UK; 4Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies; 5Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, Dundee, DD1 9SY, Scotland, UK; 6Department of Pharmacology, Eastern Medical College, Burichang 3520, Bangladesh; 7Department of Surgery, Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Hospital, Temerloh, Pahang, 28000, Malaysia; 8Department of Pharmacology and Public Health, School of Medicine, American University of Integrative Sciences, Bridgetown, Barbados; 9School of Allied Health, Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Background: Self-medication of drugs to alleviate symptoms is a common global behavior, helping relieve burdens on health services, but many drugs eg, antibiotics are prescription-only. Self-medication of antibiotics (SMA) is an irrational use of drugs, contributing to microbial resistance increasing health care costs and higher mortality and morbidity. This study aimed to assess SMA among university students.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study conducted among medical and non-medical students of the National Defence University of Malaysia. A validated instrument was used to gather data. Ethics approval was obtained. Random and universal sampling was adopted, and SPSS 21 was used for data analysis.
Results: A total of 649 students participated in the study: 48.5% male and 51.5% female, 39.3% reported self-medicating with antibiotics. Penicillin, doxycycline, clarithromycin were the antibiotics most used with the majority reporting no adverse drug reactions. Cost savings and convenience were the principal reasons for SMA which were mainly obtained from local retail pharmacies. Despite medical students (particularly the more senior) having better knowledge of antibiotic use than non-medical students, 89% of all research participants responded that practicing SMA was a good/acceptable practice.
Conclusion: SMA is common amongst Malaysian students and, despite understanding why SMA is unwise, even medical students self-medicate.

Keywords: antibiotics, self-medication, antibiotic resistance, university students, medical students, non-medical students

Corrigendum for this paper has been published

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