Background: More information is needed on teenagers' attitudes to self-medication with OTC-analgesics, and their access to medicine and information.
Material and method: An anonymous questionnaire study was performed among all tenth grade students in Drammen, a middle sized city in Norway, in spring 2007.
Results: 367 students participated in the study, 55 of them had a non-western background. 24 % of boys and 41 % of girls stated that analgesics could be used whenever they experienced pain. Among these, 91 % had taken analgesics during the previous four weeks, among those who thought that analgesics should not be used 50 % had taken it. The girls reported episodes of pain more often than the boys, but analgesics were used to treat pain to the same extent by all students, irrelevant of sex and cultural background. 77 % of students with a western origin and 62 % of those from non-western countries felt free to use OTC-analgesics at home without asking for permission. 31 % of western girls got analgesics from their friends. 8.5 % bought medicines at the pharmacy and 7.1 % bought them in grocery shops. Information on how to alleviate pain with medicine was usually given by the parents.
Interpretation: Teenagers in secondary school have different opinions on self-medication with OTC-analgesics. The parents assist their children in how to manage pain. 15 - 16 year-olds experience much pain, and mainly have free access to analgesics at home.