Journal of Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry

: 2017  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 73--77

Assessment of Self-Medication Practice Among Students of A Dental College of Bangalore City: A Cross-Sectional Study

Gopikrishna Venkataraman, Sourabha K Gangadharappa, Jeswin Jacob, Nithin Bhaskar, Smitha B Kulkarni, Ankita Gupta 
 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Dayananda Sagar College of Dental Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Ankita Gupta
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Dayananda Sagar College of Dental Sciences, Shavige Malleswara Hills, Kumaraswamy Layout, Bangalore - 560 078, Karnataka


Introduction: Self-medication is defined as use of medicines by the individuals on their own without professional advice to treat self-diagnosed conditions. It is prevalent not only among general population but also among doctors including dentists. Aim: To assess the pattern of self-medication practice among students of a dental college of Bangalore city. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among undergraduate dental students through convenience sampling. A questionnaire consisting of 20 close-ended questions related to various aspects of self-medication practice was handed to the students. Results: Among 165 students, 68.5% of the participants were females. The most common ailments responsible for usage of self-medication were cough, cold and sore throat (22.4%) followed by headache (6.7%). Antibiotics (34.2%) and analgesics (23.9%) were the most commonly used drug groups for self-medication. Old prescription (58.2%) was found as the most common source of information for encouraging this type of practice. Conclusion: Majority of the dental students self-medicate themselves. Measures should be adopted to reduce such type of practice by guiding the students about the pros and cons of using medicines without prescription.

How to cite this article:
Venkataraman G, Gangadharappa SK, Jacob J, Bhaskar N, Kulkarni SB, Gupta A. Assessment of Self-Medication Practice Among Students of A Dental College of Bangalore City: A Cross-Sectional Study.J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2017;15:73-77

How to cite this URL:
Venkataraman G, Gangadharappa SK, Jacob J, Bhaskar N, Kulkarni SB, Gupta A. Assessment of Self-Medication Practice Among Students of A Dental College of Bangalore City: A Cross-Sectional Study. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 Feb 20 ];15:73-77
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William Osler once commented on the human nature as ’A great element which distinguishes humans from animals is the desire to take medicine’.[1] Self-medication is defined as the act of taking non-prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC) medications without professional advice.[2] It includes re-using old prescriptions or sharing leftover medicines with other individuals.[3]

A lot of factors such as inclusion of a subject like pharmacology, easy availability of free samples or influence of Internet and new technology contribute to this practice.[4]

Self-medication is on an alarming rise and is harmful, if not practised properly, as initially it is being overlooked as a cheaper alternative but on the long run, can cause serious problems.[5]

Dental students differ slightly from the general population, as they are more exposed to the knowledge of drugs, and since they are the future dental practitioners, they can help patients by guiding and counselling them about the pros and cons of using self-medication.

A number of studies have been conducted in the past to assess the self-medication practice among medical and nursing students but a very few on the dental students. Therefore, the present study was undertaken with an aim to assess the pattern of self-medication practice among dental students.

 Materials and Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted among undergraduate dental students, aged between 17 and 25 years, of a private dental college of Bangalore city during the month of August–September 2015. The study protocol was reviewed by the institutional ethical committee and was granted ethical clearance. A pilot study was conducted among 30 undergraduate dental students to determine the feasibility of the study and to calculate the sample size. On the basis of the results of the pilot study, a sample size of 165 was calculated. Hence, a sample size of 165 dental students (first year till internship) was taken for this study. All the 165 students who had signed the informed consent form were selected through convenience sampling. The purpose of the study was explained to them and they were asked to fill up a printed questionnaire.

The questionnaire consisted of previously validated[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11] 20 close-ended questions in English. The questionnaire was translated to Kannada (local language) and then re-translated to English to check the validity of the questionnaire. Out of the 20 questions, the first three questions were related to their demographic details regarding age, gender and year of study. Among 17 questions, seven questions were related to knowledge, two of them about attitude of dental students and eight were related to their self-medication practices. Seven questions were based on two-point Likert scale with each question having two options, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and for 10 questions, multiple responses could be given, from which the respondents have to choose single or multiple options.

The questionnaires were assessed for their completeness and only the completed questionnaires were considered for the final analysis. Data entry was done in Microsoft Excel 2013, and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 22 software (SPSS Inc., IL, USA) was used for descriptive and inferential statistics. Chi-square test was used to test the significance. A P < 0.05 was considered to be significant.


A total of 165 dental students aged between 17 and 25 years, with a mean age of 20.46 (±2.16) years, participated in the study. Of these, 113 (68.5%) were females and 52 (31.5%) were males [Table 1]. Among the 165 students, majority of the respondents had practised some sort of self-medication during the last 6 months (81.2%).{Table 1}

Maximum students (58.2%) obtained information by using previous prescription of illness or doctor, directly from the pharmacist (10.3%) and by browsing the Internet (7.8%). Other sources of self-medication found were friends, textbooks and advertisement.

After getting sick, the immediate response of most dental students was to first self-medicate themselves (47.9%). The next preferred response was to consult a doctor (32.1%). The responses of the students across 5 years of study were different and statistically significant (P = 0.001) [Table 2].{Table 2}

When asked about the side effects of various medicines, 87.9% were aware of it (P = 0.03). They also had enough knowledge about the adverse drug reactions (72.7%) and importance of completing the course of drug (87.9%) (P = 0.037). When asked about the dosage of drug and checking expiry date before using the drugs, 78.2 and 97% of students were aware about it, respectively, but no statistical significance was found [Table 3].{Table 3}

The most common reason found behind the self-medication practice was that the students had previously used these medicines (33.9%), or they did not want to spend unnecessary money on doctor’s fee (27.3%) [Figure 1].{Figure 1}

The most common symptom for which self-medication was taken was cough, cold and sore throat (22.4%), followed by fever (13.9%), headache (6.7%), tooth-ache (4.8%) and mouth ulcers (3.6%), and allopathic medicines were found as the most trustable system of medicines (84.2%) followed by ayurvedic medicines (4.8%). The most common group of drugs used by students were antibiotics (34.2%), followed by analgesics (23.9%), antipyretics (20.9%) and home remedies (9.4%). Other options were antacids (6.8%), antidiarrhoeal (2.4%), antiallergies (1.8%) and sedatives (0.6%) [Figure 2].{Figure 2}


According to World Health Organization (WHO), self-care is what people do for their own selves to establish and maintain health, prevent and deal with illness.[12] Self-medication practice is a form of self-care in which people take medicines without any medical supervision and the medicines are called as ‘OTC’ medicines.

The results of our study showed that self-medication is widely practised among undergraduate dental students (81.2%). Increased trends of this practice could be because of various reasons, for example, dental students are more exposed to knowledge of drugs because of the inclusion of the subject like pharmacology in second year, and few of them also have easy accessibility to free samples of various drugs from medical representative and due to increase in new technology. Individuals, especially youth, are greatly influenced by this technology, as they can get information about any drug as well as they can buy drugs through various websites, which results in their increased practice of self-diagnosis and then self-medication.

In our study, cough, cold and sore throat (22.4%) were the most common reasons found for self-medication practice followed by fever whereas headache was found as the most common reason to use self-medication in studies conducted by Abay and Amelo (25.8%),[6] Goel and Gupta[8] (42.8%), Kalyan et al.[9] (71.4%) and Srikanth et al.[11] (54.5%). Fever was also reported as the most common reason for using self-medication by Raikar and Mala[7] (91.5%) and Kumar et al.[13] (75.1%). Although it is believed that there is no treatment for cold, individuals could not resist themselves from taking self-medication to cure the symptoms of cold as early as possible. This led to the increase in ‘OTC’ medicine practice for cough cold and sore throat.

In the present study, antibiotics (34.2%) and analgesics (23.9%) were found as the most commonly used type of self-medication. In contrast, Raikar and Mala[7] (76.1%) and Goel and Gupta[8] (59.05%) found analgesics as the most commonly used for self-medication practice. In another study, paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were the most commonly used class of drugs.[6] Antimicrobials were not commonly used for self-medication and were obtained mostly by prescription.

The most common source of information regarding self-medication was through previous prescription (58.2%) followed by Internet (7.8%). Similar results were found by Kumar et al.[13] (54%). In a study conducted by Goel and Gupta,[8] it was found that pharmacist (51.43%) could also play a vital role in distributing the information about the medicines. In another study, it was found that 30.5% students used reading material for their source of drugs.[6] This type of practice could result in various types of serious consequences in the long run.

In our study, it was observed that prior experience of use of self-medication (33.9%) and unnecessary expenditure on doctor’s fees (27.3%) were the main factors responsible for self-medication practices. Similar results were obtained by Abay and Amelo[6] in which they found prior experience of use of medication as the main factor (35.4%). Raikar and Mala[7] (56.6%) and Srikanth et al.[11] (42.3%) found money as the main factor for using self-medication. In the present study, it was also observed that taking medications was the immediate response of students after falling sick (47.9%). Similar results were obtained by Kalyan et al.[9] (62.5%). In our study, 78.2 and 97% undergraduate students were aware about the importance of drug dosage and checking of expiry date before its usage, respectively. Similar results were obtained by Kalyan et al.[9] In our study, 72.7% students knew about the adverse drug reactions, which are more as compared to results obtained by Goel and Gupta[8] (59.6%) and Kalyan et al.[9] (62.5%).

In the present study, it was found that maximum students (84.2%) trust only allopathic system of medicine, which was in accordance with the results obtained by Kumar et al.[13] (80.6%).

Improper practice of self-medication among health-care students is a serious and inevitable problem, which needs to get eradicated with the help of proper education and knowledge about the pros and cons of medicines, as according to WHO, judicious use of self-medication could be very helpful and cheaper method of those ailments which do not require medical consultation.[14]

As the results of the study were based on a questionnaire, there is a possibility of over-reporting of the self-medication, and as this is a cross-sectional study with small sample size, the results cannot be generalised. Only dental undergraduate students were included, so we were not able to compare the results with the general population. Future studies with larger sample size and inclusion of general population are recommended.


To limit this practice, strict legislation should be made regarding easy accessibility of OTC drugs, and proper knowledge and awareness should be given not only to the students but also to the general population regarding the pros and cons of using the medicines without the advice of doctor or about re-using the old medicines. They should also be explained about the harms associated with the browsing information and taking advice regarding medicines from the Internet, and therefore, such practice should be limited to as less as possible.


Self-medication is widely practiced among the dental students. The main reason found behind this practice was previous experience of use of these drugs and the fact that they did not want to spend unnecessary money on doctor’s fees. The main source of information was from previously used prescriptions and from pharmacist, and the most common medicines used by the students were antibiotics and analgesics and mostly for cough, cold and fever. The majority of the students were aware about the dosage, side effects and importance about completing the course and checking expiry date every time before its usage.


The authors would like to thank the participants of the study.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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