Health complaints and use of medicines among adolescents in Malta
Objective: To investigate self-reported health complaints and the use of medicines among adolescents in Malta.
Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was used to survey self-reported health complaints, the use and the sources of medicines that had been accessed, during the preceding 3 months among adolescents attending secondary schools in Malta. A stratified random sample design generated a sample size of 514 students. The health complaints and use of medicines that were investigated included ear problems/hay fever/cold/cough, headache, skin problems, sport injuries, indigestion/diarrhoea/constipation, eye problems and menstrual pain (for girls). The use of vitamins and antibiotics was also investigated.
Results: A total of 477 students participated in the final data collection. Correct information was submitted by 474 students, (aged 14-16 years), who formed the analytical sample, of which 53.8% were girls. The students reported a mean number of 2.70 (SD = 1.39) out of a total of 7 health complaints and 90.3% reported using at least 1 medicine during the preceding 3 months. The community pharmacy was cited as the most commonly accessed source for most of the medicines that were investigated. A proportion of 24.3% of the students had taken at least 1 medicine without adult guidance during the preceding 3 months. Almost 10% of those who had taken antibiotics, had accessed them from the home medicine cabinet.
Conclusion: A high proportion of adolescents in Malta reported the use of medicines to alleviate the symptoms of common health complaints. This result is concordant with previous research carried out in the United Kingdom, Germany, Slovakia and Kuwait. A considerable proportion of students in this study had obtained medicines without adult guidance and accessed antibiotics from the home medicine cabinet. This highlights the importance of carefully designed education programs for adolescents that will integrate information about the proper use of medicines.
2. Campbell A, McGrath PJ. Use of medication by adolescents for the management of menstrual discomfort. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(9):905-913.
3. Chambers CT, Graham JR, McGrath PJ, Finley A. self-administration of over-the-counter medication for pain among adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(5):449-555.
4. Geckova A, Tuinstra J, Pudelsky M, Kovarova M, van Dijk JP, Groothoff JW, Post D. Self-reported health problems of Slovak adolescents. J Adolesc. 2001;24(5):635-645.
5. Torsheim T, Danielson M, Valimaa R. Health and well-being. In: Currie C, Roberts C, Morgan A, Smith R, Settertobulte W, Samdal O, Barnekow Rasmussen V, editors. Young people's health in context. Health behaviour in school-aged children (HBSC): international report from the 2001/2002 survey. Copenhagen: World Health Organisation; 2004. p. 55-62.
6. Schirm E, van den Berg P, Gebben H, Sauet P, de Jong-van den Berg L. Drug use of children in the community assessed through pharmacy dispensing data. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000;50(5):473-478.
7. Dengler R, Roberts H. Adolescents' use of prescribed drugs and over-the-counter preparations. J Public Health Med. 1996;18(4):437-442.
8. Geissler PW, Nokes K, Prince RJ, Achieng Odhiambo R, Aagaard-Hansen J, Ouma JH. Children and medicines: self-treatment of common illnesses among Luo schoolchildren in western Kenya. Soc Sci Med. 2000;50(12):1771-1783.
9. Lau TF, Yu A, Cheung JCK, Leung SF. Studies on common illnesses and medical care utilization patterns of adolescents in Hong Kong. J Adolesc Health. 2000;27(6):443-452.
10. Stoelben S, Krappweis J, Rossler G, Kirch W. Adolescents' drug use and drug knowledge. Eur J Pediatr. 2000;159(8):608-614.
11. Hansen EH, Holstein BE, Due P, Currie CE. International survey of self-reported medicine use among adolescents. Pediatrics. 2003;37(3):361-366.
12. Abahussain E, Matowe LE, Nicholls PJ. Self-reported medication use among adolescents in Kuwait. Med Princ Pract. 2005;14(3):161-164.
13. da Silva C, Giugliani ER. Consumption of medicines among adolescent students: a concern. J Pediatr (Rio J). 2004;80(4):326-332.
14. Iannotti RJ, Bush PJ. The development of autonomy in children's health behaviours. In: Sussman EJ, Feagans W, Ray W, editors. Emotion, Cognition, Health and Development in Children and Adolescents. New York: Erlbaum; 1989. p. 53-74.
15. Daniel KL, Honein MA, Moore CA. Sharing prescription medication among teenage girls: potential danger to unplanned/undiagnosed pregnancies. Pediatrics. 2003;111(5):1167-1170.
16. Hameen-Anttila K, Juvonen M, Ahonen R, Bush PJ, Airaksinen M. What schoolchildren should be taught about medicines. Health Educ. 2006;105(6):424-436.
17. HBSC focus groups. International standard version of 2001/02 HBSC mandatory questionnaire. In: Currie C, Samdal O, Smith B, editors. Health behaviour in school-aged children: a World Health Organization cross-national study. Research protocol for the 2001/02 Survey. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh; 2001. p. 213-234.
18. Boyce W, Dallago L. Socioeconomic inequality. In: Currie C, Roberts C, Morgan A, Smith R, Settertobulte W, Samdal O, Barnekow Rasmussen V, editors. Young people’s health in context. Health behaviour in school-aged children (HBSC): international report from the 2001/2002 survey. Copenhagen: World Health Organisation; 2004. p. 13-25.
19. Laforest L, Bousquet J, Pietri G, Sazonov Kocevar V, Yin D, Pacheco Y, Van Ganse E. Quality of life during pollen season in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis with or without asthma. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2005;136(3):281-286.
20. Kamolz T, Pointner R. Gastroesophogeal reflux disease. Heart-burn from a psychological view. Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol. 2004;50(3):261-268.
21. Monto AS. The seasonality of rhinovirus infections and its implications for clinical recognition. Clin Ther. 2002;24(12):1987-1989.
22. Webster GF. The pathophysiology of acne. Cutis 2005;76:4-7.
23. Bi P, Tong S, Parton KA. Family self-medication and antibiotics abuse for children and juveniles in a Chinese city. Soc Sci Med. 2000;50(10):1445-1450.
24. Stratchounski LS, Andreeva IV, Ratchina SA, Galkin DV, Petrotchenkova NA, Demin AA, Kuzin VB, Kusnetsova ST, Lithatcheva RY, Nedogoda SV, Ortenberg EA, Belikov AS, Toropova IA. The inventory of antibiotics in Russian home medicine cabinets. Clin Infect Dis. 2003;37(4):498-505.
25. Ceaser S, Wurtz R. "Leftover" antibiotics in the medicine cabinet. Ann Intern Med. 2000;133(1): 74.
26. Todar K. Todar’s online textbook of bacteriology [Internet]. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin, Department of Bacteriology; 2008. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics;[cited 2008 May 19]; [about 38220 bytes]. Available from: http://www.textbookofbacteriology.net/resantimicrobial.html
27. Banhidy F, Lowry RB, Czeizel AE. Risk and benefit of drug use during pregnancy. Int J Med Sci. 2005;2(3):100-106.
28. Population and social statistics unit. Demography review 2004: population and social conditions. Malta: National statistics unit; 2005.
The authors hereby transfer, assign, or otherwise convey to Pharmacy Practice: (1) the right to grant permission to republish or reprint the stated material, in whole or in part, without a fee; (2) the right to print pr epublish copies for free distribution or sale; and (3) the right to republish the stated material in any format (electronic or printed). In addition, the undersigned affirms that the article described above has not previously been published, in whole or part, is not subject to copyright or other rights except by the author(s), and has not been submitted for publication elsewhere, except as communicated in writing to Pharmacy Practice with this document.
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY-NC-ND) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.