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

Els Mehuys (UGent) , Charlotte Verrue (UGent) , Lucas Van Bortel (UGent) , Leen De Bolle (UGent) , Jean Paul Remon (UGent) and Danny De Looze (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
BACKGROUND: Upper gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are a common reason for self-treatment with over-the-counter (OTC) medication. However, data on the typology of GI complaints for which individuals seek self-medication and, more importantly, on the prevalence of alarm symptoms in this population are scarce. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to investigate: (i) the nature of GI symptoms people intend to self-medicate, (ii) prevalence of alarm symptoms, (iii) compliance with referral advice given by the pharmacist, and (iv) 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 18-80 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 compliance with referral advice or efficacy of self-treatment. Results: The most frequently reported GI complaints were burning retrosternal discomfort (49.2%), acid regurgitation (53.2%) and bothersome postprandial fullness (51.2%). At least 1 alarm symptom was present in 22.4% of the individuals, difficulty in swallowing being the most prevalent one (15.4%). Although twenty-one percent of the customers were referred, only 51.7% of these actually contacted a physician. Almost all of the remaining customers who were advised self-treatment reported symptom relief with the obtained OTC drug (95.1%). CONCLUSIONS: Mild GI symptoms will mostly resolve with self-treatment. Yet, the value of pharmacist counselling on OTC treatment should be recognized, as community pharmacists can play an important role in
Keywords
self-medication, community pharmacy, pharmaceutical care

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Chicago
Mehuys, Els, Charlotte Verrue, Lucas Van Bortel, Leen De Bolle, Jean Paul Remon, and Danny De Looze. 2009. “Self-medication of Upper Gastrointestinal Symptoms: a Community Pharmacy Study.” Journal De Pharmacie De Belgique (3): 84–88.
APA
Mehuys, Els, Verrue, C., Van Bortel, L., De Bolle, L., Remon, J. P., & De Looze, D. (2009). Self-medication of upper gastrointestinal symptoms: a community pharmacy study. JOURNAL DE PHARMACIE DE BELGIQUE, (3), 84–88.
Vancouver
1.
Mehuys E, Verrue C, Van Bortel L, De Bolle L, Remon JP, De Looze D. Self-medication of upper gastrointestinal symptoms: a community pharmacy study. JOURNAL DE PHARMACIE DE BELGIQUE. 2009;(3):84–8.
MLA
Mehuys, Els, Charlotte Verrue, Lucas Van Bortel, et al. “Self-medication of Upper Gastrointestinal Symptoms: a Community Pharmacy Study.” JOURNAL DE PHARMACIE DE BELGIQUE 3 (2009): 84–88. Print.
@article{831761,
  abstract     = {BACKGROUND: Upper gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are a common reason for self-treatment with over-the-counter (OTC) medication. However, data on the typology of GI complaints for which individuals seek self-medication and, more importantly, on the prevalence of alarm symptoms in this population are scarce. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to investigate: (i) the nature of GI symptoms people intend to self-medicate, (ii) prevalence of alarm symptoms, (iii) compliance with referral advice given by the pharmacist, and (iv) 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 18-80 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 compliance with referral advice or efficacy of self-treatment. Results: The most frequently reported GI complaints were burning retrosternal discomfort (49.2\%), acid regurgitation (53.2\%) and bothersome postprandial fullness (51.2\%). At least 1 alarm symptom was present in 22.4\% of the individuals, difficulty in swallowing being the most prevalent one (15.4\%). Although twenty-one percent of the customers were referred, only 51.7\% of these actually contacted a physician. Almost all of the remaining customers who were advised self-treatment reported symptom relief with the obtained OTC drug (95.1\%). CONCLUSIONS: Mild GI symptoms will mostly resolve with self-treatment. Yet, the value of pharmacist counselling on OTC treatment should be recognized, as community pharmacists can play an important role in},
  author       = {Mehuys, Els and Verrue, Charlotte and Van Bortel, Lucas and De Bolle, Leen and Remon, Jean Paul and De Looze, Danny},
  issn         = {0047-2166},
  journal      = {JOURNAL DE PHARMACIE DE BELGIQUE},
  keyword      = {self-medication,community pharmacy,pharmaceutical care},
  language     = {fre},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {84--88},
  title        = {Self-medication of upper gastrointestinal symptoms: a community pharmacy study},
  year         = {2009},
}