Experiences of self-medication among people: a qualitative meta-synthesis

  • Zhila Fereidouni
  • Morteza Kameli Morandini
  • Majid Najafi KalyaniEmail author
Research Article



Self-medication is one of the major health-related problems in the world, which causes many problems for people and health systems. No comprehensive qualitative meta-synthesis has been done to understand the perceptions and experiences of self-medication among people.


This study aimed to analyze, re-interpret, and synthesize the existing qualitative studies on perceptions and experiences of self-medication among people around the world.


In this meta-synthesis, all published qualitative studies in PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, and Web of Science databases were searched in May 2018. A total of 543 articles were screened in the primary stage and finally five articles that met the inclusion criteria were included in the meta-synthesis. The included studies were analyzed using Noblit & Hare approach.


Initially, 115 codes were identified. In the second stage, the codes were merged based on similarity and shared meanings. Finally, after checking by two authors, the following five themes were emerged: cost-effectiveness, affectivity, inefficiency of the healthcare system, previous experiences, and oversimplification.


The findings of this first meta-synthesis provided a comprehensive understanding of the perceptions and experiences of self-medication around the world. The findings showed that the experiences of self-medication could be classified into personal, social, organizational, and cultural categories. These findings could help policymakers address these perceptions and experiences in effective health planning.


Self-medication Meta-synthesis Qualitative studies 



This work was carried out as part of an approved research project (93093) by Fasa University of Medical Sciences, Fasa, Iran. The authors would like to thank Professor Juan Manuel Leyva Moral, Facultad de Medicina. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain and Professor Eesa Mohammadi, Tarbiat Modares University, Iran for their assistance in revising the manuscript based on the reviewers’ comments. Thanks also go to Ms. A. Keivanshekouh at the Research Improvement Center of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences for improving the use of English in the manuscript.

Authors’ contributions

MNK designed the review. ZhF, MKM and contributed to searching and data collection. ZhF and MNK analyzed the qualitative data. ZhF, MKM and MNK wrote the manuscript. ZhF, MKM and MNK read and approved the final manuscript.


Fasa University of Medical Sciences, Fasa, Iran.

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Fasa University of Medical Sciences, Fasa, Iran, approved the study. Consent to participate in this study is not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of NursingFasa University of Medical SciencesFasaIran
  2. 2.Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, Sari BranchIslamic Azad UniversitySariIran
  3. 3.Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing, School of Nursing and MidwiferyShiraz University of Medical SciencesShirazIran

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