Perspectives and practices of self-medication in Shibuyunji district, Lusaka province, Zambia

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Sayi, Alice
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University of Zambia
The concept of self-medication which encourages an individual to look after minor illnesses with simple and effective medicines has been adopted worldwide. Although self-medication has been reported to have several benefits, it has also been associated with many risks. Self-medication among poorly informed segments of the population may result in a waste of household and government resources. Regardless of the growing research attention in self-medication, little information has been available about perspectives and practices of self-medication especially in developing countries. In Zambia, particularly the study site, little information is available on the subject. The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives and practices of self-medication. A qualitative case study design was used. A total number of 63 participants participated in the study, four (4) focus group discussions, six (6) key informant interviews and 22 in-depth interviews were conducted during data collection. The study incorporated free listing and pile sorts in focus group discussions and In-depth interviews. Key informant interviews were also conducted with relevant individuals. Purposive sampling using maximum variation was used to select study participants. Data was analysed using grounded theory to see how emerging issues were related. From the information recorded in each interview and discussion, major themes and sub-themes were identified. The findings of the study revealed that the study participants did not follow a specific dosage or timeframe when self-medicating. Both health workers and the general population follow the same pattern when self-medicating. However, health workers perceived self-medication as being risk while the general population viewed it as being of benefit to them. The results also showed that diseases that are seen to be relatively minor and common, self-medication would be preferred. On the other hand, if the disease was thought to be severe, unfamiliar or injuries, the patient would much more likely go to the health centre for treatment. In conclusion, self-medication practices are influenced among others by income, distance to health facility, condition of the disease and disease severity. People don‟t have a specific dosage and duration to follow when self-medicating. The perceived benefits of self-medication are likely to result in it being a common health seeking behaviour. Key words: Self-medication, Practices, Perspectives, Responsible self-medication.
Self medication , Self-administered medications