Self-Medication with Antibiotics: A Study In Palestine

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Journal Title, Volume, Page: 
The International Journal Of Risk And Safety In Medicine, 20(4): 213-222
Year of Publication: 
Ansam Sawalha
Poison Control And Drug Information Center (PCDIC), An-Najah National University, P.O. Box 7, Nablus, Palestine
Current Affiliation: 
Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Department of Biomedical Sciences, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine
Preferred Abstract (Original): 

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate self-medication practices with antibiotics among school teachers in Palestine.
Methods: A survey was conducted via a structured questionnaire among governmental school teachers regarding their practices and attitude toward antibiotics. All data were entered and analyzed using SPSS 15.
Results: A total of 1039 teachers completed and returned the questionnaire; giving a response rate of 64.9%. Respondents were divided as follows: group I (19.4%) were those who used antibiotics through self-medication only, group II (12.4%) used antibiotics by prescription only, group III (44.7%) used antibiotics by self-medication and prescription while those in group IV (23.3%) were those who did not report using antibiotics in the past six months. Antibiotic utilization among respondents was 76.7% in the past six months. Respondents in the 4 groups had comparable demographic characteristics. Respondents in group I were more likely (42.2%) to administer antibiotics to children without medical consultation, store antibiotic leftover (52.3%) for further use, stack antibiotics at home (59.7%) to be used whenever needed and had the least attitude to finish the entire antibiotic course when prescribed to them (59.9%). Across the four groups, male and female respondents had comparable attitude toward antibiotic use except that males tend to store antibiotic leftover more than females while females tend to finish the entire antibiotic course when taken by self-medication more than males. Respondents in groups I and III mainly consulted pharmacists on self-medication and obtained the antibiotics mainly from community pharmacy. Penicillin was the major class utilized by respondent either by self-medication or by prescription in groups I (74.3%), II (70.5%) and III (68.9%). Sore throat was the most common (30.3%) clinical condition that respondents self-treat with antibiotics, followed by symptoms of common cold (24.4%).
Conclusion: Our study showed that self-medication practices with antibiotics are common and that most of these practices were inappropriate. These results should trigger health policy makers in Palestine to take action in order to prevent antibiotic misuse. Public awareness about proper use of antibiotics is needed. Furthermore, strengthening pharmacy laws and pharmacy control over non-prescription sale of antibiotics is highly recommended.