Background: Self-medication and non-doctor prescribing of drugs is common in developing countries. Complementary and alternative medications, especially herbs, are also commonly used. There are few studies on the use of these medications in Pokhara Valley, Western Nepal.
Methods: Previously briefed seventh semester medical students, using a semi-structured questionnaire, carried out the study on 142 respondents. Demographic information and information on drugs used for self-medication or prescribed by a non-allopathic doctor were collected.
Results: Seventy-six respondents (54%) were aged between 20 to 39 years. The majority of the respondents (72 %) stayed within 30 minutes walking distance of a health post/medical store. 59% of these respondents had taken some form of self-medication in the 6-month period preceding the study. The common reasons given for self-medication were mild illness, previous experience of treating a similar illness, and non-availability of health personnel. 70% of respondents were prescribed allopathic drugs by a non-allopathic doctor. The compounder and health assistant were common sources of medicines. Paracetamol and antimicrobials were the drugs most commonly prescribed. A significantly higher proportion of young (<40 years) male respondents had used self-medication than other groups.
Conclusions: Self-medication and non-doctor prescribing are common in the Pokhara valley. In addition to allopathic drugs, herbal remedies were also commonly used for self-medication. Drugs, especially antimicrobials, were not taken for the proper duration. Education to help patients decide on the appropriateness of self-medication is required.