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Research Papers

The usage of over the counter (OTC) medicines and traditional medicines (TMs) for common ailments in selected urban and rural areas in Sri Lanka

Authors:

M.S. Risfa ,

B. Pharmacy Unit, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda, LK
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J.A.C. Perera,

B. Pharmacy Unit, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda, LK
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P.P.R. Perera

Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda, LK
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Abstract

Population-based studies regarding attitudes, knowledge, beliefs and practices of the use of non-prescription medicines and traditional medicines among the general public are rare in Sri Lanka. Public knowledge and understanding influence the pattern of self-medication. It will also provide further insight for the development and evaluation of health education and disease prevention strategies. Thus this study was conducted to investigate the usage of over the counter (OTC) medicines and traditional medicines (TM) for common ailments in a selected urban and rural area in Sri Lanka.

This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted during June and July 2013 at Geli-Oya Muruthagahamula division (rural) and Bahirawakanda (urban) Gramaniladhari areas in Kandy District, Central Province, Sri Lanka. Volunteers (n=400) between 18 - 65 years of age were selected by a random sampling method. An interviewer administered questionnaire was used to collect data from voluntary participants via a face to face interview. Written consent was obtained from participants before interviewing. Healthcare providers were excluded to avoid biased information.

Among the 400 participants (200 from each division) 82% had the opinion that self-medication is enough to cure common ailments. Almost half of our respondents (58%) were likely to practice both OTC drugs and TMs but TMs were preferred by many of the people in both areas (61.25%). Younger adults (72%) were using self-medication more than the elderly people (27.25%). Out of the respondents OTC drugs were preferred more by women and TMs were preferred by men. Accessibility of health care didn’t have an impact on the choice of self-medication. Paracetamol (97.50%) and the herbal preparation Samahan® (56.75%) were the most frequently used OTC drugs and TMs respectively. There was a significant association (p <0.001) between the use of self-medication and the area of study. The gender, age and family incomes showed significant associations with self-medication pattern (OTC drugs and TMs). The ease of handling and administration of OTC drugs is the more frequent reason to choose OTC drugs and main factor influencing the public’s preference of TMs over the OTC drugs is the absence of serious side effects in TMs.

The usage of self-medication is widespread among people in both urban and rural areas and self-medication has significant association with the two selected areas. The major factor leading to the use of self-care behavior is patient satisfaction with the self-medication system. The accessibility of health care services is not a factor that influences the choice of self-medication.

DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/pjsl.v5i0.2
How to Cite: Risfa, M.S., Perera, J.A.C. & Perera, P.P.R., (2015). The usage of over the counter (OTC) medicines and traditional medicines (TMs) for common ailments in selected urban and rural areas in Sri Lanka. Pharmaceutical Journal of Sri Lanka. 5, pp.2–9. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/pjsl.v5i0.2
Published on 01 Nov 2015.
Peer Reviewed

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