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Shakeel Ahmad Mir*, Shakil U Rehman

Objectives: To assess the prevalence, pattern and other demographic characteristics of Self-medication in rural areas of Central Kashmir.

Method: A descriptive cross -sectional study was conducted from February 2015 to July 2015 in the rural areas of two Central Kashmir districts, Budgam and Srinagar. Simple random sampling method was used.Data was analyzed by combination of manual calculators, Vassar stats and also SPSS.Out of 250 participants, 192 returned the completely filled questionnaires.

Results: Prevalence of self-medication was found to be as high as 89.58%.(64.58%) of those who practiced self-medication were males. Majority of the participants (30.76%) aged between 26-35 years and only 1.56% aged above 75 years. Most of the participants (88.54%) were literate. Most common illnesses for which self medication was used were: fever, backache, myalgias (32.55%), followed by gastrointestinal symptoms/diseases (23.25 %) and respiratory symptoms/diseases(16.27 %).Some major illnesses like hypertension(6.97%),thyroid disorders(4.65%),diabetes mellitus(2.32%)and surgical illnesses(2.32%) were also treated by self-medication.34.88 % practiced self-medication to save time and 27.90% to save money. 25.58% had previous experience of treating the same illness or symptoms.9.30 % practiced self-medication as they had no trust in prescribing physician due to varied reasons. Most of the respondents (25.58 %) used pain killers, followed by antibiotics by 19.76%,GIT drugs by 17.44% and decongestants, bronchodilators by 11.62%.Other drugs used were anti hypertensives(5.81%), multivitamins(4.65%) and anti allergics(1.16%).Majority (34.88 %) consulted their pharmacists to know about the drug & dosage. 25.58% consulted their friends and co-workers and 16.27% their family members to know about the drug(s) and dosage.16.27% searched internet to know about the drug(s).Most of the respondents (53.48%) stopped the drug after symptoms disappeared.30.23% stopped the drug(s) after a few days despite the outcome. Only 15.11% continued the drug(s) till full recovery.88.37% knew that drug(s )can cause various side effects and 11.62% were ignorant of this fact.40.69% experienced adverse drug effects.

Conclusion: Self- medication is an important health issue. It is commonly practiced to get quick relief. It can be hazardous especially to pregnant women and extremes of age. Consequences of such practices should always be emphasized to the community and steps to curb it considered. Prevalence rate of self medication is alarming in rural areas of Central Kashmir. Thus further work should be done on larger scale and strict policies should be formulated to address this problem.

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