The impact of medical knowledge on attitudes towards the use of OTC drugs

Original Article, Pol J Public Health 2015;125(3): 137-143


1 Department of Epidemiology, Medical University of Lublin, Poland

2 Chair and Department of Public Health, Medical University of Lublin, Poland

3 Department of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetology, Medical University of Lublin, Poland

4 Department of Public Health, Medical University of Lublin, Poland

DOI: 10.1515/pjph-2015-0041


Introduction. In many countries, the concept of OTC drugs, among others, is defined in advance by the assumed maximum period of their use – usually 3-5 days. In fact, many patients often benefit from these opportunities too often, use medication for longer than 3-5 days and prefer symptomatic treatment rather than causal. OTC drugs give people a sense of freedom and subjectivity. Numerous doctors claim that too much freedom in this case can prove dangerous.

Aim. The aim of this study was to analyze the changes in attitudes towards the use of OTC drugs in medicine students as they acquire knowledge and medical experience.

Material and methods. The study looked at 178 students of the Faculty of Medicine, Medical University of Lublin (89 – 1 and 2 year students as well 89 – 5 and 6 year ones). A diagnostic survey was used as a tool for obtaining responses from the participants. The survey was conducted between October 2014 and November 2014.

Results. Almost 90% of medical students use OTC drugs for self-medication, while only 11% of them have never used such medicine. Analysis of students’ attitudes indicate that acquired medical knowledge has no effect on the frequency using this type of treatment. Overall, students tend to use such drugs occasionally. Only some 14-23% of them use the OTC drugs on a regular basis. The motivations for the use such drugs include: convenience, the previous experiences implying the effi­cacy of drugs, less frequent are other reasons. Some 28% of the students participating in the study and at least 13% of graduat­ing medical students accept prolonged use of OTC drugs. As the consequence acquisition of medical knowledge, the students are less likely to consult their self-medication attitudes with doctors, families and friends, more often and accurately read the leaflets for drugs, and are more and more reluctant to proposals for extending the assortment of available OTC drugs.

Conclusions. 1. Almost 90% of medical students use OTC drugs for self-treatment. 2. 28% of polled 1-2 year medical stu­dents and at least 13% of graduating ones may have tendencies to abuse drugs. 3. Over the subsequent years of study, medical students more often read medicine leaflets, they become less reliant on the advice they receive from their family or friends regarding self-treatment or they are less willing to extend the range of available OTC drugs.


Full text


OTC drugs, medical knowledge, medical students, attitudes, drug abuse.


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