Prevalence and associated risk factors of self-medication with over-the-counter medicines among university students in the United Arab Emirates

Main Article Content


Non-prescription drugs, Self-medication, Medical students, United Arab Emirates


Background: Proper self-medication with Over the Counter (OTC) medicines can benefit both the patient and the healthcare sector. Although OTC medications are considered relatively safe, their improper use can lead to serious health risks and implications. This study investigates the self-medication practices with OTC medicines among medical and non-medical students at different universities in the United Arab Emirates. Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out over six months (January-June 2021). The desired confidence level was set at 95%, and the precision level was 0.03. A three-step cluster sample method was employed. A self-administered questionnaire that assessed predisposing, enabling and need factors associated with the use of OTC medicines was developed based on Andersen’s behavioural model. Results: A total of 2355 students completed the study questionnaire. The mean age was 20.94, and 76.3% were female. More than half of the participating students (57.5%) reported using OTC medicines during the past 90 days of conducting the study. A good proportion (67.8%) reported performing a high level of self-care. Student’s perceived health (p<0.0001), educational background (p=0.003), use of left-over drugs (p=0.002), relies on informal sources for drug information (p=0.0001) and reading drugs information leaflets (p<0.0001) were all significantly associated with whether students sought medical advice or not. Conclusion: Many university students were observed that they never sought pharmacist advice when taking OTC medications. The likelihood of consulting a pharmacist when using an OTC medication was lower among medical students than non-medical students and among those who do not read the drug information leaflets. The proactive role that a pharmacist can play can have paramount importance in promoting the proper and safe use of OTC drugs.

Abstract 1280 | PDF Downloads 372


1. Sansgiry S, Bhansali A, Bapat S, et al. Abuse of over-the-counter medicines: a pharmacist’s perspective. Integr Pharm Res Pract.2016;6:1-6.
2. Limaye D, Limaye V, Krause G, et al. A systematic review of the literature on survey questionnaires to assess self-medicationpractices. Int J Community Med Public Health. 2017;4(8):2620.
3. Shankar PR. Essential medicines and health products information portal. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2014;5(1):74-75.
4. Andersen R, Newman JF. Societal and individual determinants of medical care utilisation in the United States. Milbank MemFund Q Health Soc. 1973;51(1):95-124.
5. Dalton K, Byrne S. Role of the pharmacist in reducing healthcare costs: current insights. Integr Pharm Res Pract. 2017;6:37-46.ttps://
6. World Health Organization. Guidelines for the regulatory assessment of medicinal products for use in self-medication. WorldHealth Organization; 2000.
7. Mamo S, Ayele Y, Dechasa M. Self-medication practices among community of Harar City and its surroundings, Eastern Ethiopia.\J Pharm (Cairo). 2018;2018:1-6.
8. Bell J, Dziekan G, Pollack C, et al. Self-care in the twenty first century: A vital role for the pharmacist. Adv Ther. 2016;33(10):1691-1703.
9. Hanna L-A, Murphy A, Hall M, et al. Future pharmacists’ opinions on the facilitation of self-care with over-the-counter productsand whether this should remain a core role. Pharmacy (Basel). 2021;9(3):132.
10. Helal RM, Abou-ElWafa HS. Self-medication in university students from the city of Mansoura, Egypt. J Environ Public Health.2017;2017:1-7.
11. Bekele KM, Abay AM, Mengistu KA, et al. Knowledge, attitude, and practice on over-the-counter drugs among pharmacy andmedical students: A facility-based cross-sectional study. Integr Pharm Res Pract. 2020;9:135-146.
12. Albusalih FA, Naqvi AA, Ahmad R, et al. Prevalence of self-medication among students of pharmacy and medicine colleges ofa public sector university in Dammam city, Saudi Arabia. Pharmacy (Basel). 2017;5(3):51.
13. Roien R, Bhandari D, Hosseini SMR, et al. Prevalence and determinants of self-medication with antibiotics among generalpopulation in Afghanistan. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2022;20(2):315-321.
14. Tesfamariam S, Anand IS, Kaleab G, et al. Self-medication with over the counter drugs, prevalence of risky practise and its associated factors in pharmacy outlets of Asmara, Eritrea. BMC Public Health. 2019;19(1):159.
15. Al-Kubaisi, Khalid A, De Ste Croix, et al. Appropriateness assessment and identifying the risk factors of oral non-prescriptiondrugs’ use among university students in the United Arab Emirates.
16. Sample design for educational survey research: Module 3. [cited 2022 May 28]. ark:/48223/pf0000214550
17. Li X. Emerging media: Uses and dynamics. London, England: Routledge; 2015.18. Robert CC, Bradley H. Sociocultural, economic and regulatory influences on medicine use by consumers in a rural. South Med Rev. 2011;4(1).
19. Håkonsen H, Sundell KA, Martinsson J, et al. Consumer preferences for over-the-counter drug retailers in the reregulated Swedish pharmacy market. Health Policy. 2016;120(3):327-333.
20. Balbuena FR, Aranda AB, Figueras A. Self-medication in older urban mexicans : an observational, descriptive, cross-sectional study: An observational, descriptive, cross-sectional study. Drugs Aging. 2009;26(1):51-60.
21. Gama ASM, Secoli SR. Automedicação em estudantes de enfermagem do Estado do Amazonas – Brasil. Rev Gaucha Enferm.2017;38(1):e65111.
22. Arrais PSD, Fernandes MEP, Pizzol T da SD, et al. Prevalence of self-medication in Brazil and associated factors. Rev SaudePublica. 2016;50(2):13s.
23. Scuri S, Petrelli F, Tanzi E, et al. European university students of pharmacy: survey on the use of pharmaceutical drugs. ActaBiomed. 2019;90(1):83-91.
24. Hughes CM, McElnay JC, Fleming GF. Benefits and risks of self medication. Drug Saf. 2001;24(14):1027-1037.
25. Luetsch K. Attitudes and attributes of pharmacists in relation to practice change - A scoping review and discussion. Res SocialAdm Pharm. 2017;13(3):440-455.e11.
26. Xiao X, Wu Z-C, Chou K-C. A multi-label classifier for predicting the subcellular localisation of gram-negative bacterial proteinswith both single and multiple sites. PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20592.
27. Cole C. Looking for information: A survey of research on information seeking, needs, and behavior (4th edition). Donald O.Case and Lisa M. Given. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing, 2016. 528 pp. $82.95 (hardcover). (ISBN: 9781785609688). JAssoc Inf Sci Technol. 2017;68(9):2284-2286.

Most read articles by the same author(s)