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Self-medication of upper gastrointestinal symptoms: a community pharmacy study

Els Mehuys UGent, Lucas Van Bortel UGent, Leen De Bolle UGent, Inge Van Tongelen UGent, Jean Paul Remon UGent and Danny De Looze UGent (2009) ANNALS OF PHARMACOTHERAPY. 43(5). p.890-898
abstract
BACKGROUND: Upper gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are a common reason for self-treatment with over-the-counter (OTC) medication. However, data are scarce on the typology of GI complaints for which individuals seek self-medication and, more importantly, on the prevalence of alarm symptoms in this population. OBJECTIVE: To investigate: (1) the nature of GI symptoms that people intend to self-medicate, (2) prevalence of alarm symptoms, (3) adherence to referral advice given by the pharmacist, and (4) self-reported efficacy and frequency of use of OTC medication for minor complaints. METHODS: This descriptive study was performed in 63 community pharmacies. Participants (N = 592, aged 18-82 y) completed a questionnaire to assess symptom characteristics and previous medical consulting. Based on this information, the pharmacist referred subjects to a physician or advised self-treatment. Four weeks later, participants were presented a follow-up questionnaire evaluating their adherence to referral advice or efficacy of self-treatment. RESULTS: The most frequently reported GI symptoms were burning retrosternal discomfort (49.2%), acid regurgitation (53.2%), and bothersome postprandial fullness (51.2%). At least one alarm symptom was present in 22.4% of the individuals, with difficulty in swallowing being the most prevalent (15.4%). Although 21% of the customers were referred, only 51.7% of these contacted a physician. Almost all (95.1%) of the remaining customers who were advised self-treatment reported symptom relief with the OTC drug obtained. CONCLUSIONS: Mild GI symptoms will mostly resolve with self-treatment. Yet, the value of pharmacist counseling on OTC treatment should be recognized, as community pharmacists can play an important role in distinguishing symptoms that warrant further medical examination.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
CARE, IMPACT, DISORDERS, HEARTBURN, dyspepsia, antacid, self-treatment, upper gastrointestinal symptoms, nonprescription drugs, GASTROESOPHAGEAL-REFLUX, H-2-RECEPTOR ANTAGONISTS, GENERAL-PRACTICE, DYSPEPSIA, PREVALENCE, THE-COUNTER AVAILABILITY
journal title
ANNALS OF PHARMACOTHERAPY
Ann. Pharmacother.
volume
43
issue
5
pages
890 - 898
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000266082700010
JCR category
PHARMACOLOGY & PHARMACY
JCR impact factor
2.453 (2009)
JCR rank
111/236 (2009)
JCR quartile
2 (2009)
ISSN
1060-0280
DOI
10.1345/aph.1L647
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
686505
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-686505
date created
2009-06-09 16:34:50
date last changed
2010-07-14 09:32:37
@article{686505,
  abstract     = {BACKGROUND: Upper gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are a common reason for self-treatment with over-the-counter (OTC) medication. However, data are scarce on the typology of GI complaints for which individuals seek self-medication and, more importantly, on the prevalence of alarm symptoms in this population.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate: (1) the nature of GI symptoms that people intend to self-medicate, (2) prevalence of alarm symptoms, (3) adherence to referral advice given by the pharmacist, and (4) self-reported efficacy and frequency of use of OTC medication for minor complaints.
METHODS: This descriptive study was performed in 63 community pharmacies. Participants (N = 592, aged 18-82 y) completed a questionnaire to assess symptom characteristics and previous medical consulting. Based on this information, the pharmacist referred subjects to a physician or advised self-treatment. Four weeks later, participants were presented a follow-up questionnaire evaluating their adherence to referral advice or efficacy of self-treatment.
RESULTS: The most frequently reported GI symptoms were burning retrosternal discomfort (49.2\%), acid regurgitation (53.2\%), and bothersome postprandial fullness (51.2\%). At least one alarm symptom was present in 22.4\% of the individuals, with difficulty in swallowing being the most prevalent (15.4\%). Although 21\% of the customers were referred, only 51.7\% of these contacted a physician. Almost all (95.1\%) of the remaining customers who were advised self-treatment reported symptom relief with the OTC drug obtained.
CONCLUSIONS: Mild GI symptoms will mostly resolve with self-treatment. Yet, the value of pharmacist counseling on OTC treatment should be recognized, as community pharmacists can play an important role in distinguishing symptoms that warrant further medical examination.},
  author       = {Mehuys, Els and Van Bortel, Lucas and De Bolle, Leen and Van Tongelen, Inge and Remon, Jean Paul and De Looze, Danny},
  issn         = {1060-0280},
  journal      = {ANNALS OF PHARMACOTHERAPY},
  keyword      = {CARE,IMPACT,DISORDERS,HEARTBURN,dyspepsia,antacid,self-treatment,upper gastrointestinal symptoms,nonprescription drugs,GASTROESOPHAGEAL-REFLUX,H-2-RECEPTOR ANTAGONISTS,GENERAL-PRACTICE,DYSPEPSIA,PREVALENCE,THE-COUNTER AVAILABILITY},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {890--898},
  title        = {Self-medication of upper gastrointestinal symptoms: a community pharmacy study},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1345/aph.1L647},
  volume       = {43},
  year         = {2009},
}

Chicago
Mehuys, Els, Lucas Van Bortel, Leen De Bolle, Inge Van Tongelen, Jean Paul Remon, and Danny De Looze. 2009. “Self-medication of Upper Gastrointestinal Symptoms: a Community Pharmacy Study.” Annals of Pharmacotherapy 43 (5): 890–898.
APA
Mehuys, E., Van Bortel, L., De Bolle, L., Van Tongelen, I., Remon, J. P., & De Looze, D. (2009). Self-medication of upper gastrointestinal symptoms: a community pharmacy study. ANNALS OF PHARMACOTHERAPY, 43(5), 890–898.
Vancouver
1.
Mehuys E, Van Bortel L, De Bolle L, Van Tongelen I, Remon JP, De Looze D. Self-medication of upper gastrointestinal symptoms: a community pharmacy study. ANNALS OF PHARMACOTHERAPY. 2009;43(5):890–8.
MLA
Mehuys, Els, Lucas Van Bortel, Leen De Bolle, et al. “Self-medication of Upper Gastrointestinal Symptoms: a Community Pharmacy Study.” ANNALS OF PHARMACOTHERAPY 43.5 (2009): 890–898. Print.