THE PRACTICE OF SELF-MEDICATION AMONG UNDERGRADUATES
1.1 Background Of The Study
Medication refers to the act of consuming medicines for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases correct medication is observed by reporting any disease to the physician at the hospital or clinic who diagnoses and prescribes the needed drugs to alleviate the condition. This is usually followed by filling of such prescription at the pharmacy by pharmacists (Femi-Oyewo et al, 2002).Self medication can be defined as the use of drugs to treat self-diagnosed disorder or symptoms or the intermittent or confined use of a prescribed drugs for chronic or recurrent disease or symptoms. Over the counter drugs are a form of self-medication, the buyer diagnoses his own illness and buys a specific drug to treat it (WHO 2000).
Self medication is often seen as gaining personal independence from established Medicare. According to the joint statement by the International Pharmaceutical Federation & World Self-medication Industry, self Medication is the use of non-prescription medicines by people on their own initiative. It also states that:
1. Self-care which includes self medication has been a feature of health care for many years.
2. Nowadays people are been to accept more personal responsibility for their health status and to obtain as much sound information as possible from expert sources in order to help them make appropriate decision in healthcare.
3. Government and health insurers are increasingly encouraging self-care, including self-medication when appropriate as one means of limiting the rate of increase in third party funding of health care.
4. Pharmacist are advisors to the public on everyday healthcare and key factors in the supply of and advice on medicines.
5. Advertising is helpful in informing people about medicines that are available without prescription. It should always be responsible and should not discourage the individual from seeking advice from a pharmacist or physician.
Generally people usually have different remedies for whatever illness you can think of. for example, fever, cold, catarrh, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, body pains, headache etc. friends or even strangers are always ready to advice on which medication to take, this can be dangerous, even though there is usually no immediate consequence. This suggests that self-medication has become a public health threat in our society at large. Consider the fact that in Nigeria most prescription drugs can be bought from pharmacies and patent medicine stores and even along the streets without prescription.
Self-medication is also the act of obtaining and consuming drugs without advice of a doctor either for diagnosis, prescription or surveillance treatment. It should be known that medicines are chemicals which can have both good and bad effect on the human body.
Indeed just as medicines can cure, they can also harm. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary defined an undergraduate, as a universally or college student who is studying for their first degree. Some studies have reported alarming rates of self-medication in student population. An example is a study carried out by the Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical, microbiology faculty of Pharmaceutical sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria Nigeria, titled “Evaluation of Antibiotics self-medication pattern amongst Undergraduate students of Ahmadu Bello University (Main Campus), Zaria”, it was found that self-medication was practiced by a majority of the respondents. And that self-medication with antibiotics was mostly practiced among students of health related faculties i.e pharmaceutical sciences and medicine the major reasons given for self medicating with antibiotics were:
a. Assumed knowledge on antibiotics
b. Prior experience on the use
c. Lack of time to go for consultation
d. Attitude of school clinic staff.
While the conditions for which antibiotics were taken include; Gastro intestinal tract infections urinary tract infections and skin infection. More so the university environment is also a contributing factor in the involvement of youth in self medication. This is because there is no parental supervision and it is the students’ first opportunity outside home and opportunity to be part of a larger group without any form of constraint or rule. Also tertiary institutions have been alleged as the last period of freedom before adulthood which comes with responsibilities and duties thus students are more vulnerable and gullible to try out new things however harmful.
In spite of several awareness and enlightment campaign the practice of self medication is still eminent. In combating self-medication, there is a need to know the factors that influence the practice of self-medication (i.e those factors that encourage the practice of self-medication among undergraduates.
This study was carried out among undergraduate of university of lagos Akoka, Lagos State.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
As a medical personnel, the researcher have observed that several cases of allergic reactions and severe adverse effects following drug use have been traced down to self-medication. It has also been observed that an increasing number of people presenting at the hospitals for treatment practice self-medication which in most cases worsen their state of health.
Self medication also leads to drugs-interactions, wrong treatment for the wrong problem, drug-resentence, insanity and even death. More and more young people are becoming victims of self-medication, may be due to their experimental nature. It is therefore important to study the influence of self-medication among undergraduates of University of Lagos.
1.3 Purpose Of Study
The purpose of the study is to examine those factors that influence the practice of self-medication among undergraduate of University of Lagos.
1.4 Research Questions
The study intends to answer the following questions:
1. Will peers influence influence the practice of self-medication among undergraduates of University of Lagos?
2. Will attitude of school clinic staff influence the practice of self-medication among undergraduates of University of Lagos?
3. Will over-the-counter sale of drugs influence the practice of self medication among undergraduates of University of Lagos?
4. Will nature of illness influence the practice of self-medication among undergraduates of University of Lagos?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
1. Peers will influence the practice of self-medication among undergraduates of University of Lagos.
2. Attitude of school clinic staff will not influence the practice of self-medication among undergraduates of University of Lagos.
3. Over-the-counter sale of drugs will influence the practice of self medication among undergraduates of University of Lagos.
4. Nature of illness will not influence the practice of self-medication among undergraduates of University of Lagos.
1.6 Delimitation Of The Study
This is study is delimitated to:
1. University of Lagos.
2. Undergraduate in 100 to 500 level.
3. Four faculties of social sciences, environmental science, engineering, and education.
4. A self developed questionnaire.
5. Self medication.
6. Determinant factors of peer influence, gender attitude of school clinic staff, over the counter sale of drugs, nature of illness.
1.7 Limitations of The Study
During the study, the researcher encountered the following limitations:
1. The number of questionnaires distributed is not enough to represent the University of Lagos.
2. Little information is available about the influence of the practice of self medication.
3. Some students who were approached declined participation in the research.
1.8 Significance of The Study
The researcher expects that through this study the University of Lagos could create strategic solutions to tackle the practice of self-medication among its students. This study is expected to assist future researchers on this topic as a reference.
This research might be an eye-opener to the factors that influence undergraduate of University of Lagos to practice self medication through the specific findings of the study.
1.9 Operational Definition of Terms
Self medication: it is the use of drug without a doctor’s prescription to treat perceived or real malady or to alleviate distress or pain.
Factors: Things that contribute or lead to the practice of self medication.
Influence: A power affecting undergraduates’ choice to practice or not to practice self medication.
Practice: To perform self medication habitually or usually.
Undergraduates: Persons studying at the University of Lagos for a first degree, in both full-time and sandwich programmes.
Gender: Characteristics of the undergraduate being male or female.
Peer: People who are of equal age, education or social class with the undergraduate.
Over- the –counter: Medicines that are sold directly to consumers without a prescription from a healthcare professional