Objectives: To determine the prevalence, pattern, and awareness of self-medication practices among patients presenting at oral health outreach programs in coastal Karnataka, India.
Materials and methods: The cross-sectional study, based on an interview conducted in randomly selected 400 study subjects from the patients presenting at these oral health outreach programs. Data were collected regarding demographic information and the interview schedule consisting of 14 questions was administered.
Results: Prevalence of self-medication was 30%. Respondents' gender (χ(2) = 5.095, P < 0.05), occupation (χ(2) = 10.215, P < 0.05), the time from the last dental visit (χ(2) = 8.108, P < 0.05), recommendation of drug(s) to family members or friends (χ(2) = 75.565, P < 0.001), and the likelihood of self-medication in the next 6 months (χ(2) = 80.999, P < 0.001) were significantly associated with self-medication. Male respondents were less likely to have undertaken self-medication (odds ratio = 0.581 [0.361, 0.933]). The frequently self-medicated drug was analgesics (42.5%) for toothache (69.2%). The regression model explained 39.4% (Nagelkerke R(2)) of the variance in self-medication practices.
Conclusions: Prevalence of self-medication was 30% with demographic influence. Hence, this study highlights the policy implications for drug control by government agencies and stresses on the need for dental health education to discourage irrational drug use.
Keywords: Dentists; drug resistance; oral health; self-medication.