Patterns and Factors Influencing Self-Medication among Students of The American International University West Africa (Aiuwa), The Gambia


  •   P. E. Oriavwote

  •   A. O. Ikwuka


Aims/Objectives: This study aimed to throw more light on how common self-medication is, among the American International University West Africa (AIUWA), The Gambia’s student population, the common patterns, and the factors that aid or prevent self-medication among the students.

Materials and Methods: This study utilized a descriptive cross-sectional design. A sample of 168 AIUWA students was collected online. Qualitative data was hardcoded and data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and multivariable binary logistic regression to determine the correlation between factors for, and outcomes of self-medication.

Results and Discussion: 38.9% of the respondents practiced self-medication. The most common rationale for self-medication is the perception of the illness to be mild (42%) and having similar symptoms in the past (36.2%). Other reasons were availability of home remedies (26.1%) or drugs for self-medication (20.3%), emergency use (17.4%), and because self-medication saves time. The least common reasons given for self-medicating were clinic being far away (2.9%) and being a health worker or practicing nurse (1.4%). Knowledge from the past experiences of an illness (51.5%) and online sources (26.5%) were the most common sources of knowledge for self-medication. The most common medications used are Paracetamol (60.9%) and antibiotics (46.4%) and the most common conditions treated are headache (52.2%) and cold symptoms (46.4%). Less than half of the respondents (46.4%) self-medicated according to the recommended duration, 42% were sure that they did not take the medication for the correct duration of time and 11.6% did not even bother to check. Almost all the participants who self-medicated said that the medication solved the health condition they treated. Majority of the students who practiced self-medication preferred orthodox medicines to alternative medicines. By far, the most common source of drugs for self-medication was the drug store (81.4%), followed by friends and family (16.7%), drugs stored at home (15.7%), and home remedies (15.7%). Most of the students sometimes read the prescribing information before using a medication, and 51.2% do not support the idea of self-medication. In addition, self-medication was significantly associated with being a student in the health science center (p<0.001), married (p<0.05) or single (p<0.05), and being in or beyond the third year of studies (p<0.05). 

Conclusions: Almost half of the respondents admitted to having practiced self-medication because they perceived their illness to be mild. Students who were significantly more likely to self-medicate were those in the health science center, those who are married or single, and those who have reached or passed the third year of studies.

Keywords: Alternative medicines, Gambia, orthodox medicines, self-medication, university students, West Africa


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How to Cite
Oriavwote, P. E., & Ikwuka, A. O. (2022). Patterns and Factors Influencing Self-Medication among Students of The American International University West Africa (Aiuwa), The Gambia. European Journal of Clinical Medicine, 3(2), 33–37.