Self-medication amongst university students of Karachi: Prevalence, knowledge and attitudes

Syed Nabeel Zafar, Reema Syed, Sana Waqar, Akbar Jaleel Zubairi, Talha Vaqar, Mehrine Shaikh, Wajeeha Yousaf, Saman Shahid, Sarah Saleem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine the prevalence, attitude and knowledge of self-medication amongst university students of Karachi, Pakistan. Methods: This cross-sectional, study was conducted from Jan-Feb 2007. A convenience sample was taken from 2 medical and 2 non-medical universities of the city of Karachi, Pakistan. Data was analyzed using SPSS v 14 and associations were tested using the Chi square test. Results: Of the 572 participants (mean age=21 ± 1.8 years, Male: Female ratio=1:1.5), 295 were medical and 277 were non-medical students. The prevalence of self-medication was 76%. Forty three percent students stated that they alter the regimen of prescribed medicines while 61.9% stated that they stop taking a prescribed medicine without consulting a doctor. The most common reason for self-medication was previous experience (50.1%) and the most common symptoms were headache (72.4%), flu (65.5%), and fever (55.2%). Commonly used medicines were analgesics (88.3%), antipyretics (65.1%) and antibiotics (35.2%). Eighty seven percent of students thought self-medication could be harmful and 82.5% students thought that it was necessary to consult a doctor before taking a new medicine. There was no significant difference between the self medication practices of medical and non medical students (p=0.8) Conclusion: Prevalence of self-medication is high in the educated youth, despite majority being aware of its harmful effects. There is a need to educate the youth to ensure safe practices. Strict policies need to be implemented on the advertising and selling of medications to prevent this problem from escalating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-217
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


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