Objective: Use of medicines for headache is common among young adolescents but little is known about their sources of supply and access to medicines. The purpose was to describe sources of supply, availability and accessibility at home and to examine if supply, availability and accessibility were associated with medicine use.
Methods: Cross-sectional study in eight schools where all fifth and seventh grade students (11- and 13-year-olds) answered a questionnaire about socio-demographic factors, health and medicine use. Response rate: 84.0%, n = 595.
Results: The reported prevalence of headache at least monthly was 45.0%, and 42.5% had used medicines for headache during the past month. 68.2% reported that medicines for headache were always available at home, and 22.2% were allowed to use these without asking for permission. Most pupils received medicine from their parents (73.1%) and physicians (25.4%). Smaller proportions had received medicine from school nurses, teachers, friends and others; 11.6% mentioned at least three sources of supply. Pupils with frequent episodes of headache reported more sources of supply and higher availability and accessibility at home. OR for medicine use among children who mentioned three or more sources of supply was 4.53 (95% CI 2.63-7.83) in a multivariate model controlled for sex, age and prevalence of headache. Use of medicine was also associated with availability at home (OR = 1.51, 1.01-2.27) and accessibility (OR = 2.49, 1.57-3.93).
Conclusion: Medicine use for headache among children and young adolescents is common and control of access may be the key issue for safe medicine use.