Self-medication with antibiotics in Lithuania

Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2006;19(4):246-53. doi: 10.2478/v10001-006-0030-9.


Objectives: Excessive and not always proper use of antibiotic give rise to numerous problems, of which antimicrobial resistance, currently cause for worldwide concern, is the major one. Few single studies of antibiotic use have been carried out in some countries. This study was performed to estimate the prevalence of antibiotic use in the general population of Lithuania with special interest in self-medication with antibiotics and sources of their acquisition.

Materials and methods: Structured questionnaires on antibiotic use during the last 12 months were mailed to randomly selected adults and 746 of them were finally analyzed.

Results: It was found that 39.9% of respondents reported antibiotic use during the last 12 months preceding the study and 53.2% of those used them in self-medication. In general, 22.0% (95%CI: 19.1-25.1) of respondents used antibiotics without prescription, whereas 45.0% (95%CI: 41.3-48.7) of them used antibiotics for intended self-administration. Adjustment for all the factors revealed the impact of the occupation, place of residence and presence of chronic disease on self-medication with antibiotics. Representatives of managerial, executive and professional occupations used non-prescribed antibiotics 8.38 times more often (95% CI: 1.76-39.91, p = 0.01) than retired people. Healthy people showed the tendency to self-medication 2.04 times more frequently than those with chronic diseases (95%CI: 1.11-3.75, p = 0.02). Rural people used non-prescribed antibiotics 1.79 times more often than inhabitants of urban areas (95%CI: 1.00-3.18, p = 0.049). Community pharmacies proved to be the most frequent (86.0%) source of over-the-counter antibiotics. Tonsillitis, bronchitis, and upper respiratory infections were the major reasons for self-medication with antibiotics.

Conclusions: The high prevalence of self-medication with antibiotics was found in Lithuania. The study indicated the need for more strict control of antibiotic sales and promotion of education of the correct use of antibiotic among Lithuanian people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Lithuania / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population
  • Self Administration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Medication / statistics & numerical data*
  • Urban Population


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents