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STUDY OF THE PATTERNS AND PRACTICES OF SELF-MEDICATION FOR SKIN DISEASES AMONG UNDERGRADUATE MEDICAL STUDENTS-A STUDY FROM MEDICAL INSTITUTE IN NORTH INDIA

Abstract

Sanjeev Gupta*

Background: Self-medication is certainly not an uncommon phenomenon. After the advent of easy availability of medicines, it has been widely misused in the name of self-care. It is prevalent all around us mostly due to lack of knowledge, resources and specialist facilities. The general population may rationalize this behavior owing to lack of information or insight. But medical students are the most privileged in the aspects of healthcare and knowledge. Seeing this, we chose to study the practice of self-medication in the well informed medical students.

Aims and Objectives: To ascertain the determinants of pattern of use and perception about self-medication for skin conditions by undergraduate medical students in a tertiary care institute in North India.

Material and Methods: An exhaustive questionnaire comprising of multiple aspects to assess the outlook of medical students regarding self-medication was formed. Around 420 undergraduate medical students from the fields of MBBS, BDS, Nursing and Pharmacy were enrolled in the study and asked various questions about self-medication. The average scores and frequency of occurrence of particular behaviors among different categories of respondents were seen using appropriate statistical tests. In depth interviews were conducted with the medical students.

Results: We noted that 65.7% medical students had opted for self-medication for Dermatology in the last one year. The general notion was that, 256 (62.3%) students believed skin conditions to be minor illnesses leading them to adopt self-medication. The commonest skin conditions leading to self-medication were skin allergies, amounting to 51.1% (193) students taking selfmedication for the same. Expectedly, 44.3% (182) students believed that their self-confidence is the reason they opt for self-medication in dermatology. Course text books (45.2%), local chemist (29.5%) and classroom teaching (41.2%) were the major sources of knowledge for them in opting for self-medication. It was seen that 217 (61.6%) students stopped or decreased dosage after they felt better, while 37.2% (153) stopped only after complete recovery. Only 38 students (9.2%) completed the entire course of treatment. Surprisingly the students were fully aware of their lack of knowledge (52.2%) about the depth of dermatology and that it can lead to a damaging misdiagnosis (50.2%).

 The practice of self-medication is highly prevalent among undergraduate medical students due to their exposure to knowledge and easy availability of drugs. There is lack of regulation regarding over the counter distribution of drugs. Minimal exposure to the subject of Dermatology in their study course has led to lack of orientation of students.

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