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Iran J Public Health. 2014 Feb;43(2):136-46.

Predictors of Self-Medication Behavior: A Systematic Review.

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Health Education & Promotion Department, Faculty of Health, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences , Tabriz, Iran.



Self-medication with over the counter (OTC) and non OTC drugs may provoke serious consequences for users and societies. Recognition of its predictors therefore, is pivotal in plans to hinder the aggregating behavior. This study aimed to identify possibly all predictors of self-medication and the range of its prevalence among different populations.


Medline, Amed, Scopus, Medlib, SID, Pub Med, Science Direct, and super searcher of Google Scholar were scrutinized using "self-medication", "self-prescription" and "self-treatment" key words without a time limit with special focus on Iranian studies. Authors independently assessed the title, abstract and full text of identified articles for inclusion and any disagreement was resolved with consensus.


The range of reported self-medication in the 70 included publications was 8.5-98.0%. Having a minor illness (15 studies), health care costs (9 studies), lack of adequate time to visit a physician (11 studies), prior experience (7 studies) in using a drug and long waiting time to visit a qualified practitioner (5 studies) were most frequently reported reasons of self-medication.


The observed diversity in the reported prevalence and reasons of self-medication among different sub-groups of populations (e.g. males vs. females) and between developed and developing countries highlights the importance of explanatory behavioral chain analysis of self-medication in different population groups and countries. Even within a single country, predictors of this harmful practice could be inconsistent. Lack of sufficient quality re-search to identify precipitating factors of self-medication in developing countries is paramount.


Predictors; Risk factors; Self-medication; Self-prescription; Self-treatment


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