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Int J Public Health. 2011 Feb;56(1):81-7. doi: 10.1007/s00038-010-0188-6. Epub 2010 Sep 1.

Stress and use of over-the-counter analgesics: prevalence and association among Danish 25 to 44-year-olds from 1994 to 2005.

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  • 1Section for Social Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 2, 2100, Copenhagen, Denmark.



To examine the prevalence of over-the-counter analgesic (OTCA) use and perceived stress among 25 to 44-year-old men and women from 1994 to 2005; to examine the association between stress and OTCA use over time, and to explore whether the association attenuates when controlled by stress-related symptoms.


Cross-sectional studies were carried out in 1994, 2000 and 2005. The study population included men and women from ages 25 to 44 years (n (1994) = 1,781, n (2000) = 5,819, n (2005) = 4,831). The surveys were conducted by face-to-face interviews and the outcome measure was OTCA use. The independent variable was perceived stress and pain/discomfort symptoms were included as covariates.


There was a significant increase in OTCA use and often feeling stressed from 1994 to 2005. Although there was a significant association between stress and OTCA use for men in all three surveys, there was no association in 2000 when adjusted for symptoms. For women stress and OTCA use were not associated in 1994, while in 2000 and 2005 the association was significant, also after adjusting for symptoms.


The findings indicate that there may be an increasing overuse of OTCA in treating stress among 25 to 44-year-old men and women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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