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Self-medication practice in Ethiopia: a systematic review

Authors Ayalew MB

Received 3 January 2017

Accepted for publication 7 February 2017

Published 1 March 2017 Volume 2017:11 Pages 401—413


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Mohammed Biset Ayalew

Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia

Background: Self-medication patterns vary among different populations, and are influenced by many factors. No review has been done that comprehensively expresses self-medication practice in Ethiopia. The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the literature on self-medication practice in Ethiopia.
Materials and methods: Databases (PubMed, Google Scholar, ResearchGate, and Hinari) were searched for published studies on the practice of self-medication in Ethiopia without restriction in the year of publication or methodology. Some studies were also identified through manual Google search. Primary search terms were “self medication”, “Ethiopia”, “self care”, “non-prescription”, “OTC drug use”, “drug utilization”, and “drug hoarding”. Studies that measured knowledge only or attitude only or beliefs only and did not determine the practice of self-medication were excluded.
Results: The database search produced a total of 450 papers. After adjustment for duplicates and inclusion and exclusion criteria, 21 articles were found suitable for the review. All studies were cross-sectional in nature. The prevalence of self-medication varied from 12.8% to 77.1%, with an average of 36.8%. Fever/headache, gastrointestinal tract diseases, and respiratory diseases were the commonest illnesses/symptoms for which self-medication was taken. The major reasons for practicing self-medication were previous experience of treating a similar illness and feeling that the illness was mild. Analgesics/antipyretics, antimicrobials, gastrointestinal drugs, and respiratory drugs were the common drug classes used in self-medication. Mainly, these drugs were obtained from drug-retail outlets. The use of self-medication was commonly suggested by pharmacy professionals and friends/relatives.
Conclusion: Self-medication practice is prevalent in Ethiopia and varies in different populations and regions of the country. Some of the self-medication practices are harmful and need prompt action. Special attention should be given to educating the public and health care providers on the types of illnesses that can be self-diagnosed and self-treated and the types of drugs to be used for self-medication.

Keywords: self-medication, self-care, OTC drug, Ethiopia

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