Objective: self-medication is practiced significantly worldwide. No data is available on the current status of self-medication practice in Palestine. The objective of this study is to assess the extent of self-medication practice among a random sample of An-Najah National University students.
Methods: this was a cross-sectional, anonymous, questionnaire-based survey that included 1581 students of different academic levels enrolled at different faculties at An-Najah National University. A pre-validated questionnaire with several open-ended and closed-ended questions was administered to the students. Data were coded, entered, and analyzed using SPSS version 13.
Results: sixty three percent of respondents were females enrolled at non-medical schools. The mean age of respondents was 19.9 years. Ninety-eight percent of respondents reported practicing self-medication. There was no statistical difference between respondents who reported practicing self-medication based on gender or type of school (medical vs. non medical). The average number of medications reported by self-medication practitioners was 2.63 ± 1.38 medications per respondent. Analgesics, decongestants, herbal remedies, and antibiotics were the most common classes reported in self-medication. Headache, sore throat, flu, and dysmenorrhea were the most common aliments for which respondents seek self-medication. The majority of respondents practiced self-medication because the ailments they had were simple or because they had previous experience. The majority of respondents had good medication knowledge but did not posses high self-care orientation. Neither medication knowledge, nor self-care orientation was a predicting factor associated with the practice of self-medication. However, in selecting a particular type of medication the type of school, gender, and self-care orientation were influential.
Conclusion: self-medication is very common among An-Najah students. This practice is common for treating clinical conditions that are either simple or previously experienced. Although, no significant predictors of self-medication did exist among the studied group, levels of self-care orientation and medication knowledge can be of value in analyzing the types of medications employed by self-medication practices.