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Acne is a very common condition, especially among adolescents. It can lead to self-doubt and a need to get rid of the condition as quickly as possible. This leads to excessive self-medication. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the trends of self-medication among medical students in Lahore. Very few studies about this had been conducted in Pakistan before. Therefore, we found it absolutely necessary to carry out a research on this topic.
Objectives: The objectives of this research were:
- To determine the frequency of acne and self-medication for acne among medical students in Lahore and to determine whether the frequency of self-medication was affected by year of study, gender, residency and severity of the problem.
- To determine the knowledge, attitude and various practices adopted by students who self-medicate for acne.
This Cross-Sectional Study was conducted for a period of six months (3rd February 2020 – 15th July 2020). Stratified random sampling was done and a Google form based questionnaire was administered to students of all five years after taking their consent. The technique of stratified random sampling was used to distribute the questionnaire. The questionnaire comprised five sections. The first section consisted of demographic information (name of institute, age, sex, year of study and residence), and whether the student had acne or not. The second section focused on the severity of acne and whether they self-medicated or not. The third section comprised of questions related to the practices adopted by students including the medicines they were using, the sources of information and the reasons of self-medication. The fourth section evaluated the knowledge of students regarding the medicines they were using while the last section focused on the attitudes that the students adopted following self-medication. SPSS Version 25 was used to analyze the data and chi square test with p value <0.05 was applied to determine the statistical association between different variables.
450 students responded to the questionnaire. Out of 450 students, 206 had acne (45.8%). Self-medication was observed in 98 (47.6%) students. The most common reason for self-medication was mild nature of the disease (n=58, 59.2%). Among the sources for self-medication, TV/newspapers/social media were found to be the leading category (n=38, 38.8%). Out of 206 students who practiced self-medication, 57 used allopathic medication (58.2%). Clindamycin (n=35, 55.6%) and Isotretinoin (n=22, 34.9%) were the most commonly used allopathic drugs. Out of the 98 students practicing self-medication, 72 knew about the dose of the medicine (73.4%), 62 knew about the mechanism of action (63.2%), 59 knew about the adverse effects (60.2%), 72 knew about the precautions for use (73.4%), 44 knew about the complications (44.9%) and 45 knew about the contraindications (45.9%) of the drugs. 75 students believed that self-medication was a part of self-care (76.5%). 42 students would advise self-medication to their friends/family (42.8%). 90 students believed that a dermatologist’s consultation was important for acne (91.8%). 86 students said that the medication they used was useful (87.8%). 78 students said that they would continue to self-medicate in the future (79.6%). Out of the four factors we were analyzing (year of study, age, gender and residency), only residency was found to be statistically associated with self-medication.
Acne was very common in the students evaluated as was the trend of self-medication. Mildness of disease was the major factor leading to self-medication. Social media/TV was the main source of information. Self-medication was higher in boarders than in day-scholars. Most students said that they would continue to self-medicate in the future despite some of them being unaware of the complications and contraindications of the medicines used. Self-medication should only be practiced with a proper knowledge of the dose, adverse effects, precautions, complications and contraindications of the medication being used. Measures should be taken to implement this.
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