Exploring the Global Landscape of Self-Medication Among Students: Trends, Risks, and Recommendations for Safe and Responsible Practices

Main Article Content

Yasser Bustanji https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1315-0609
Jalal Taneera https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3341-1063
Afnan Bargooth
Ahmad Abuhelwa https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4182-065X
Ala Issa https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9748-8804
Waseem El-Huneidi https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1580-2589
Eman Abu-Gharbieh https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5972-0681
Karem H. Alzoubi https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2808-5099
Mohammad A.Y. Alqudah https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7210-7964
Ahmed Alhusban https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1105-0620
Islam Hamad https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4326-8624
MoezAlIslam E. FARIS https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7970-2616
Mohammad H. Semreen https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0169-7538


self-medication, university students, medical students, bibliometric analysis, Anxiety, depression, antibiotics, analgesics, alcohol, adolescents, awareness


Objective: This study aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of self-medication practices among students by conducting a bibliometric analysis of the available scientific literature. This research highlights the importance of promoting safe and responsible healthcare behaviors among students. Methods: A systematic search was conducted in the Scopus database to retrieve all peer-reviewed English articles and reviews published from 1968 onwards. The retrieved documents were analyzed to identify publication trends, citation counts, top journals, geographical distribution, and emerging research themes. Results: The findings indicate a significant increase in published literature about student self-medication over the past fifteen years. However, it was observed that the citation count for these documents was lower than expected, suggesting a need for increased attention toward this critical topic. The analysis also identified several hot topics in student self-medication, including the misuse of over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, and psychoactive substances. The inappropriate use of antibiotics and the self-medication of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, were also identified as significant problems. Conclusions and recommendations: Self-medication among students is a complex and critical issue that requires immediate attention. This study highlights the urgent need for greater awareness and education regarding responsible self-medication practices among students. New policies, interventions, and strategies should be developed to address malpractices, misconceptions, and harmful practices related to self-medication. Educational institutions and health authorities should play a crucial role in providing students with mental health resources and support services. Collaborative efforts among healthcare providers, universities, and policymakers are required to consider this issue as public health priority, establish counseling centers, organize stress management and mental health workshops and develop comprehensive programs to control risks associated with student self-medication.

Abstract 387 | PDF Downloads 328


1. Al-Qerem W, Bargooth A, Jarab A, et al. Information sources, attitudes, and practices of Self-Medication by Jordanian patients: A cross-sectional study. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal. 2023;31(4):482-491. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsps.2023.01.015
2. Behzadifar M, Behzadifar M, Aryankhesal A, et al. Prevalence of self-medication in university students: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal. 2020;26(7):846-857. https://doi.org/10.26719/emhj.20.052
3. Alwhaibi M, Bin Malik S, Alswailem L, et al. Self-medication among adults with chronic health conditions: A population-based cross-sectional survey in Saudi Arabia. BMJ Open. 2023;13(4). https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2022-069206
4. Loni SB, Eid Alzahrani R, Alzahrani M, et al. Prevalence of self-medication and associated factors among female students of health science colleges at Majmaah University: A cross-sectional study. Frontiers in Public Health. 2023;11:1090021. https:// doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2023.1090021
5. Nakakande J, Taremwa IM, Nanyingi M, et al. The Utility of Internet-Enabled Antibiotic Self-Medication and Its Associated Factors Among Patients Attending Private Clinics in Kawempe Division in Kampala Capital City, Uganda: Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study. Drug, Healthcare and Patient Safety. 2023;15:85-91. https://doi.org/10.2147/dhps.s405072
6. Alsaad HA, Almahdi JS, Alsalameen NA, et al. Assessment of self-medication practice and the potential to use a mobile app to ensure safe and effective self-medication among the public in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal. 2022;30(7):927- 933. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsps.2022.05.010
7. Salameh I, Awwad S, Khdour M, et al. Online self-medication practices among university students in palestine: A questionnairebased study. Jordan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2021;14(3):243-254.
8. Kiroǧlu O, Berktaş F, Khan Z, et al. Self-medication practices with conventional and herbal drugs among ear, nose, and throat patients. Revista da Associacao Medica Brasileira. 2022;68(10):1416-1422. https://doi.org/10.1590/1806-9282.20220430
9. Khairy WA, Nasser HA, Sarhan MD, et al. Prevalence and predictors of self-medication with antifungal drugs and herbal products among university students: A cross-sectional study from egypt. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy. 2021;14:2191-2200. https://doi.org/10.2147/rmhp.s308400
10. Zeb S, Mushtaq M, Ahmad M, et al. Self-Medication as an Important Risk Factor for Antibiotic Resistance: A Multi-InstitutionalSurvey among Students. Antibiotics. 2022;11(7):842. https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics11070842
11. Panda TK, Goya D, Nebhinani N, et al. Mania after codeine self-medication in a case of panic disorder. Minerva Psychiatry. 2022;63(3):305-308.
12. Feingold D, Tzur Bitan D. Addiction Psychotherapy: Going Beyond Self-Medication. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2022;13: 820660. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.820660
13. Muralidharan, Ganapathy D, Sasanka K. Awareness on self-medications practices among dental students. International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2020;11(Special Issue 3):1389-1392.
14. Dos Silva DS, De Yamaguchi KKL. Drug chemistry and self-medication awareness as a tool in teaching organic functions. Periodico Tche Quimica. 2019;16(31):223-234.
15. Daanish AF, Mushkani EA. Influence of Medical Education on Medicine Use and Self-Medication Among Medical Students: A Cross-Sectional Study from Kabul. Drug, Healthcare and Patient Safety. 2022;14:79-85. https://doi.org/10.2147/dhps.s360072
16. Roberts EP, Roberts BS, Burns A, et al. Prevalence and dental professional awareness of antibiotic self-medication among older adults: Implications for dental education. Journal of Dental Education. 2020;84(10):1126-1135. https://doi.org/10.1002/ jdd.12239
17. Khadka S, Shrestha O, Koirala G, et al. Health seeking behavior and self-medication practice among undergraduate medical students of a teaching hospital: A cross-sectional study. Annals of Medicine and Surgery. 2022;78:103776. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.amsu.2022.103776
18. Al-Kubaisi KA, Hassanein MM, Abduelkarem AR. Prevalence and associated risk factors of self-medication with over-thecounter medicines among university students in the United Arab Emirates. Pharmacy Practice. 2022;20(3):2679. https://doi. org/10.18549/pharmpract.2022.3.2679
19. Rasheed FA, Naqvi AA, Ahmad R, et al. Academic stress and prevalence of stress-related self-medication among undergraduate female students of health and non-health cluster colleges of a public sector University in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences. 2017;9(4):251-258. https://doi.org/10.4103/jpbs.jpbs_189_17
20. Chowdhury N, Haque A, Aysha F. Investigation into self-medication of drugs for primary and adjunct therapy in psychiatric diseases among students in Chittagong City of Bangladesh: A comparison between medical and nonmedical students. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. 2012;34(4):313-317. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.108195
21. Lawrence TI, McField AA, Byrne MM, et al. Depression and Substance Use as Consequences of Exposure to Family Violence: A Moderation Mediation and Self-Medication Hypothesis Study. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma. 2023;16(1):69-79. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-022-00464-3
22. Deykin EY, Levy JC, Wells V. Adolescent depression, alcohol and drug abuse. AM J PUBLIC HEALTH. 1987;77(2):178-182. https:// doi.org/10.2105/ajph.77.2.178
23. Zhong BL, Xu YM, Xie WX, et al. Alcohol Drinking in Chinese Methadone-maintained Clients: A Self-medication for Depression and Anxiety? J Addict Med. 2019;13(4):314-321. https://doi.org/10.1097/adm.0000000000000500
24. Hawn SE, Cusack SE, Amstadter AB. A Systematic Review of the Self-Medication Hypothesis in the Context of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Comorbid Problematic Alcohol Use. J Trauma Stress. 2020;33(5):699-708. https://doi.org/10.1002/ jts.22521
25. Petrović AT, Pavlović N, Stilinović N, et al. Self-Medication Perceptions and Practice of Medical and Pharmacy Students in Serbia. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031193
26. Issa AY, Farhaa RA, Elayeha E, et al. Impact of medical specialty on the prescription patterns of topical corticosteroid among healthcare professionals. Jordan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2016;9(2):103-114.
27. Bustanji Y, Taneera J, Semreen MH, et al. Gold Nanoparticles and Breast Cancer: A bibliometric Analysis of the Current State of Research and Future Directions. OpenNano. 2023/05/29/ 2023:100164.
28. Zyoud SH. The Arab region’s contribution to global COVID-19 research: Bibliometric and visualization analysis. Globalization Health. 2021;17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-021-00690-8
29. Wallin JA. Bibliometric methods: Pitfalls and possibilities. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2005;97(5):261-275. https://doi. org/10.1111/j.1742-7843.2005.pto_139.x
30. Bustanji Y, Shihab KHA, El-Huneidi W, et al. Analysis and mapping of global scientific research on human monkeypox over the past 20 years. Veterinary World. 2023;16(4):693-703. https://doi.org/10.14202/vetworld.2023.693-703
31. Sweileh WM. Global research publications on irrational use of antimicrobials: call for more research to contain antimicrobial resistance. Globalization Health. 2021;17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-021-00754-9
32. Sweileh WM. Global research activity on mathematical modeling of transmission and control of 23 selected infectious disease outbreak. Globalization Health. 2022;18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-022-00803-x
33. van Eck NJ, Waltman L. Software survey: VOSviewer, a computer program for bibliometric mapping. Scientometrics. 2010;84(2):523-538. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-009-0146-3
34. Aria M, Cuccurullo C. bibliometrix: An R-tool for comprehensive science mapping analysis. J Inf. 2017;11(4):959-975.
35. Drossman DA, Sandler RS, McKee DC, et al. Bowel Patterns Among Subjects Not Seeking g Health Care: Use of a Questionnaire to Identify a Population With Bowel Dysfunction. Gastroenterology. 1982;83(3):529-534.
36. Kontiokari T, Sundqvist K, Nuutinen M, et al. Randomised trial of cranberry-lingonberry juice and Lactobacillus GG drink forthe prevention of urinary tract infections in women. BMJ. 2001;322(7302):1571. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7302.1571
37. Krantz DS, Baum A, Wideman MV. Assessment of preferences for self-treatment and information in health care. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1980;39(5):977-990. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.39.5.977
38. Hughes PH, Brandenburg N, Baldwin DC, et al. Prevalence of Substance Use Among US Physicians. JAMA. 1992;267(17):2333- 2339.
39. Patton GC, Hibbert M, Rosier MJ, et al. Is smoking associated with depression and anxiety in teenagers? AM J PUBLIC HEALTH. 1996;86(2):225-230. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.86.2.225
40. Shankar PR, Partha P, Shenoy N. Self-medication and non-doctor prescription practices in Pokhara valley, Western Nepal: A questionnaire-based study. BMC Fam Pract. 2002;3:1-7. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2296-3-17
41. Wilens TE. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and the substance use disorders: The nature of the relationship, subtypes at risk, and treatment issues. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2004;27(2):283-301. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0193-953x(03)00113-8
42. O’Loughlin J, DiFranza J, Tyndale RF, et al. Nicotine-dependence symptoms are associated with smoking frequency in adolescents. Am J Prev Med. 2003;25(3):219-225. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0749-3797(03)00198-3
43. Boyd CJ, McCabe SE, Cranford JA, et al. Adolescents’ motivations to abuse prescription medications. Pediatrics. 2006;118(6):2472- 2480. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2006-1644
44. Alrabiah Z, Arafah A, Rehman MU, et al. Prevalence and Self-Medication for Acne among Students of Health-Related Science Colleges at King Saud University in Riyadh Region Saudi Arabia. Medicina (Lithuania). 2023;59(1).
45. Bi B, Qin J, Zhang L, Lin C, Li S, Zhang Y. Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Factors Influencing Self-Medication in Children. Inquiry : a journal of medical care organization, provision and financing. 2023;60:469580231159744. https://doi. org/10.1177/00469580231159744
46. Shrestha R, Bhandari MS, Shrestha SS, et al. Self-medication in Primary Dysmenorrhea among Undergraduate Students in a Medical College: A Descriptive Cross-sectional Study. Journal of the Nepal Medical Association. 2022;60(256):1011-1015. https://doi.org/10.31729/jnma.7816
47. Yousef AMM, Al-Bakri AG, Bustanji Y, et al. Self-medication patterns in Amman, Jordan. Pharmacy World and Science. 2008;30(1):24-30. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11096-007-9135-x
48. Jayanthi B, Anuradha HV. Self-medication practice for dysmenorrhoea in medical, paramedical and non-medical students. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research. 2014;27(1):141-145.
49. Al-Bakri AG, Bustanji Y, Yousef AM. Community consumption of antibacterial drugs within the Jordanian population: Sources, patterns and appropriateness. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents. 2005;26(5):389-395. https://doi.org/10.1016/j. ijantimicag.2005.07.014
50. Sarvet AL, Wall MM, Keyes KM, et al. Self-medication of mood and anxiety disorders with marijuana: Higher in states with medical marijuana laws. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018;186:10-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.01.009
51. Turner S, Mota N, Bolton J, et al. Self-medication with alcohol or drugs for mood and anxiety disorders: A narrative review of the epidemiological literature. Depression Anxiety. 2018;35(9):851-860. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22771
52. Bolton J, Cox B, Clara I, et al. Use of Alcohol and Drugs to Self-Medicate Anxiety Disorders in a Nationally Representative Sample. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 2006;194(11). https://doi.org/10.1097/01.nmd.0000244481.63148.98
53. Shah K, Halder S, Haider SS. Assessment of knowledge, perception, and awareness about self-medication practices among university students in Nepal. Heliyon. 2021;7(1):e05976. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e05976
54. Alduraibi RK, Altowayan WM. A cross-sectional survey: knowledge, attitudes, and practices of self-medication in medical and pharmacy students. BMC Health Serv Res. 2022;22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-022-07704-0
55. Abu-Rish EY, Elayeh ER, Mousa LA, et al. Knowledge, awareness and practices towards seasonal influenza and its vaccine: Implications for future vaccination campaigns in Jordan. Family Practice. 2016;33(6):690-697. https://doi.org/10.1093/ fampra/cmw086

Most read articles by the same author(s)