[Children's and adolescent's use of medicine for aches and psychological problems: secular trends from 1988 to 2006]

Ugeskr Laeger. 2009 Jan 5;171(1-2):24-8.
[Article in Danish]


Introduction: Medicine use for aches and psychological problems is common among adolescents. Medicines are toxic and may have harmful side effects. It is therefore important to study change over time and patterns of medicine use. The objective of this paper is to describe self-reported medicine use for headaches, stomach-aches, difficulties in falling asleep, and nervousness among 11-, 13-, and 15-year-old boys and girls from 1968 to 2006.

Material and methods: The data material is 6 comparable and representative cross-sectional studies of 11-, 13-, and 15-year-olds from 1988, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006, total n = 23,871. Data were collected by a validated self-report method for medicine use and prevalence of the corresponding complaints.

Results: The proportion of students who used medicine for headaches within the previous month increased from 24.6% in 1988 to 42.0% in 2002 and 41.5% in 2006. The proportion who used medicine for stomach-aches increased from 7.5% in 1988 to 16.2% in 2002 and 15.2% in 2006. The proportion who used medicine for difficulties in falling asleep increased from 2.2% to 5.1%, and the proportion who used medicine for nervousness increased from 0.7% to 3.8%. There were increasing proportions of users in most sex- and age-specific subgroups. In the same period, the proportion who reported headaches and stomach-aches within the previous month decreased. The proportion who reported nervousness and difficulties in falling asleep did not change much in this period.

Conclusion: There was a significant increase in 11-, 13-, and 15-year-old student's use of medicine for aches and psychological problems from 1988 to 2006. In the same period, there was a decrease in the prevalence of students who reported pains monthly.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesics / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics / adverse effects
  • Central Nervous System Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Central Nervous System Agents / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Utilization
  • Female
  • Headache / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychotropic Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Psychotropic Drugs / adverse effects
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / drug therapy
  • Stomach Diseases / drug therapy


  • Analgesics
  • Central Nervous System Agents
  • Psychotropic Drugs