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Spanish Study: Self-Medication on the Rise

A Spanish study finds that 1 in 5 people engage in self-medication — using an over-the-counter drug, alcohol, street drugs, or drugs prescribed for a different purpose, to alleviate an illness or condition, without professional supervision.

The study found that women were more likely than men to self-medicate.

Experts from the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid believe self-medication is associated with nationality, income level and alcohol and tobacco consumption amongst the population.

“In spite of the negative connotations generally associated with the idea of self-medication, it is actually the most significant method of self-care for the population,” said Dr. Pilar Carrasco, main author of the study.

According to the research, published in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 20.17 percent of Spaniards use medication without a medical prescription.

Women were found to self-medicate more than men (with a prevalence of 16.93 percent  compared to 14.46 percent).

According to Carrasco, women self-medicate more because they “are more likely to suffer from emotional disorders and are more vulnerable in our society.

“This may be due to a greater disposition among women to acknowledge and voice their symptoms.”

Researchers used data gathered between 2006 and 2007 from 20,738 people through the National Health System. Age, sex, nationality, marital status, level of education and occupational status were studied.

Those surveyed were asked if, in the last two weeks, they had consumed any of the drugs on a list drawn up by the researchers, without medical prescription.

Both men and women had consumed painkillers, antipyretics (to reduce fevers) and drugs to relieve the common cold or sore throat, without a medical prescription.

Those 16 to 44 years old were the population group most inclined to self-medicate, with differences based on gender, level of education, nationality and health habits.

“The consumption of non-prescribed drugs is more prolific among young women without chronic pain. This practice is also related to tobacco and alcohol consumption and the use of alternative therapies in this group,” Carrasco said.

The World Health Organization advocates improved transparency on the correct use of drugs. They suggest creating spaces where the public can receive information on the correct use of drugs.

Source: FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

Spanish Study: Self-Medication on the Rise

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Spanish Study: Self-Medication on the Rise. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 16, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/04/15/spanish-study-self-medication-on-the-rise/25352.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 7 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Jul 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.