Pharmacy World and Science

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 19–25 | Cite as

Prevalence of Self-medication in Rural Areas of Portugal

  • Magda Nunes de Melo
  • Brenda Madureira
  • Ana Patrícia Nunes Ferreira
  • Zilda Mendes
  • Ana da Costa Miranda
  • Ana Paula MartinsEmail author


Objectives: To study the prevalence of self-medication among pharmacy customers in rural areas of Portugal, to assess possible predictors of self-medication and to find out whether there was a seasonal dependence in the purchase of drugs for self-medication. Method: A cross-sectional study during four different periods of a year was conducted. Community pharmacies of rural areas of Portugal were invited to participate and pharmacists were asked to recruit one person every hour during the opening hours and administer a questionnaire. Drugs dispensed were classified according to the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification system up to the second level. Main outcome measure: Prevalence of self-medication is defined as the percentage of patients acquiring a medicine that was not prescribed (written) or recommended (orally) by a physician. Results: The prevalence of self-medication was 21.5%. Main therapeutic groups acquired for self-medication were “other alimentary tract and metabolism products” (A16; proportion acquired for self-medication= 75.0%), “throat preparations” (R02; 74.7%), “antiemetics and antinauseants” (A04; 70.0%), “cough and cold preparations” (R05; 56.5%), and “nasal preparations” (R01; 50.0%). Variables found to be predictors of self-medication were age, type of health professional or person consulted when a mild health problem occurred, time elapsed since last visit to the physician and time waited between setting an appointment and the actual visit. Seasonality seemed to occur for only “cough and cold preparations”, for “dermatologicals” and for “anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic products”. Conclusion: In rural Portugal about one fifth of the pharmacy customers engaged in self-medication. However, further research should be made to address appropriateness of self-medication.


Predictors Portugal Prevalence Rural Areas Seasonal Influences Self-medication Therapeutic groups 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Magda Nunes de Melo
    • 1
  • Brenda Madureira
    • 1
  • Ana Patrícia Nunes Ferreira
    • 1
  • Zilda Mendes
    • 1
  • Ana da Costa Miranda
    • 1
  • Ana Paula Martins
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Centro de Estudos de FarmacoepidemiologiaAssociação Nacional das FarmáciasLisboaPortugal

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