Background: Nowadays, with regard to the availability of medicines and populations’ increased knowledge of medical sciences, self-medication has increased which is a challenging issue for the healthcare system. This study aimed to examine the prevalence of self-medication, comprehensively at a global level. In addition, effective factors in this regard, including the motives of self-medication, diversity of medicines used, the supply resources, and type of the resulted disease were evaluated.
Materials: English language articles published during 2000-2018 were systematically searched in Embase, PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus to find relevant research. Studies that met the inclusion criteria were evaluated independently by two researchers the relevant articles were examined based on the prevalence of the phenomenon and factors such as setting of study, common reasons for self-medication, and common drugs used.
Results: From 951 primarily revealed articles, 69 papers were entered for the final analysis. Overall, 41620 individuals were included in the selected papers, 67% of whom (N=27890) had at least one experience of self-medication. Among the continents, Europe (Eastern) had the highest incidence rate of self-medication (74%, 95% CI, 56%-86%). In terms of supply resources, 71% of the subjects purchased drugs from pharmacies (95% CI, 61-80%). Regarding the condition that led to self-medication, 48% of the patients turned to self-medication due to neurological problems (95% CI, 40-55%). Among the causes of self-medication, “a previous history” and “minor nature of the disease” were the most common reasons for self-medication.
Conclusion: According to the results of the study, the mean incidence of self-medication was higher in Eastern Europe and Asian countries, compared to other parts of the world. This could be a considerable note for policy-makers of this field. In general, self-medication can lead to short and long-term harmful consequences for the society and the healthcare systems, resulting in huge costs for countries.
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