Self-medication practices in urban and rural areas of western India: a cross sectional study


  • Dnyanesh Limaye Faculty III, Hochschule Hannover; Hannover Medical School; Hannover Biomedical Research School, Hannover, Germany; PhD Programme, Epidemiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany
  • Vaidehi Limaye Faculty III, Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany
  • Gerhard Fortwengel Faculty III, Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany
  • Gerard Krause Hannover Medical School; Hannover Biomedical Research School, Hannover, Germany; Department of Epidemiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany



Self-medication, Matunga, Tala, Mumbai, Raigad, Maharashtra, India


Background: Concerns about practice of self-medication (SM) world across are based on associated risks such as adverse reactions, disease masking, increased morbidity, wastage of resources and antibiotic resistance. SM is likely to differ between rural and urban areas of India. Systematically retrieved evidence on these differences are required in order to design targeted measures for improvement.

Methods: We conducted a cross sectional study among the general population in urban (Matunga) and rural (Tala) areas of Maharashtra, India to explore SM practices and its associated factors. Face to face interviews were conducted using the validated study questionnaire. Data was analyzed by using descriptive and analytical statistical methods.

Results: A total of 1523 inhabitants from 462 households were interviewed between [June/2015] and [August /2015], 778 (51%) of them in rural and 745 (49%) in urban areas. Overall self-medication prevalence was 29.1% (urban; 51.5%, rural; 7.7%, OR 12.7, CI 9.4-17.2) in the study participants. Participants having chronic disease (OR: 3.15, CI: 2.07-4.79) and from urban areas (OR:15.38, CI:8.49-27.85) were more likely to self-medicate. Self-medication practices were characterized by having old prescription (41.6%) as the main reason, fever (39.4%) as top indication and NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Agents) as the most self-medicated category of drugs (40.7%).

Conclusions: The present study documented that the prevalence of self-medication is associated with place of residence, and health status of the study participants. Self-medication is still a major issue in western Maharashtra, India and is majorly an urban phenomenon. Status of implementation of existing regulations should be reconsidered.


Author Biographies

Dnyanesh Limaye, Faculty III, Hochschule Hannover; Hannover Medical School; Hannover Biomedical Research School, Hannover, Germany; PhD Programme, Epidemiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany

Senior Scientist - Clinical research and Epidemiology

Vaidehi Limaye, Faculty III, Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany

Research Scientist

Gerhard Fortwengel, Faculty III, Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany


Gerard Krause, Hannover Medical School; Hannover Biomedical Research School, Hannover, Germany; Department of Epidemiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany



Sahebi L, Vahidi R. Self-Medication and Storage of Drugs at Home Among the Clients of Drugstores in Tabriz. Current Drug Safety. 2009;4(2):107-12.

James H, Handu S, Khalid A. Al Khaja KA, Otoom S, Sequeira RP. Evaluation of the knowledge, attitude and practice of self‐medication among first‐year medical students. Med Princ Pract. 2006;15(4):270–5.

Awad A, Eltayeb I. Self-medication practices in Khartoum state, Sudan. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2006;62(4):317-24.

Suleman S, Ketsela A, Mekonnen Z. Assessment of self-medication practices in Assendabo town, Jimma zone, southwestern Ethiopia. Res Social Admin Pharm. 2009;5(1):76-81.

Alam N, Saffoon N, Uddin R. Self‑medication among medical and pharmacy students in Bangladesh. BMC Res Notes. 2015;8:763.

Kumar V, Mangal A, Yadav G, Raut D, Singh S. Prevalence and pattern of self-medication practices in an urban area of Delhi, India. Med JDr. D.Y. Patil Univ. 2015;8(1):16-20.

World Health Organization: Guidelines for the regulatory assessment of Medicinal Products for use in self-medication 2000. Available: http://apps.who. int/medicinedocs/pdf/s2218e/s2218e.pdf. Last accessed on 1st May 2017.

Afridi M, Rasool G, Rabia Tabassum R, Shaheen M, Siddiqullah, Shujauddin M. Prevalence and pattern of self-medication in Karachi: A community survey. Pak J Med Sci. 2015;31(5):1241-5.

Martins A, Miranda A, Mendes Z, Soares MA, Ferreira P, Nogueira A. Self-medication in a Portuguese urban population: a prevalence study. Pharmacoepidemiology and drug safety. 2002;11:409–14.

Grigoryan L, Burgerhof J, Haaijer-Ruskamp F, Degener JE, Deschepper R, Monnet DL, et al. Is self-medication with antibiotics in Europe driven by prescribed use? J Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 2007;59:152–6.

Grigoryan L, Haaijer-Ruskamp F Burgerhof J. Self-medication with antimicrobial drugs in Europe. Emerging Infect Dis. 2006;12(3):452-9.

Goldsworthy R, Schwartz N, Mayhorn C. Beyond abuse and exposure: framing the impact of prescription-medication sharing. Am J Public Health. 2008;98(6):1115–21.

Al Rasheed A, Umar Yagoub U, Alkhashan H, Abdelhay O, Alawwad A, Al-Aboud A, et al. Prevalence and predictors of Self-Medication with antibiotics in Al Wazarat Health Center, Riyadh City, KSA. Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:3916874.

Oshikoya K, Senbanjo I, Njokanma O. Self-medication for infants with colic in Lagos, Nigeria. BMC Pediatri 2009;9:9.

Kumar N, Kanchan T, Unnikrishnan B, Rekha T, Mithra P, Kulkarni V, et al. Perceptions and Practices of Self-Medication among Medical Students in Coastal South India. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(8):e72247.

Cars O, Nordberg P. Antibiotic resistance –The faceless threat. Int J Risk Saf Med. 2005;17:103-10.

Ocan M, Bwanga F, Bbosa G, Bagenda D, Waako P, Ogwal-Okeng J, et al. Patterns and predictors of self-medication in northern Uganda. PLoS One. 2014;9(3):e92323.

Rather I, Kim B, Bajpai V. Self-medication and antibiotic resistance: crisis, current challenges, and prevention. Saudi J Biological Sci. 2017;24:808-12.

Schedule H1. THE GAZETFE OF INDIA. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. GSR 588(E). 2013. Available from 588E30thAug2013.pdf. Accessed on 1st May 2018).

Hazra A. Schedule H1: Hope or hype? Indian J Pharmacol. 2014;46(4):361–2.

Porter G, Grills N. Medication misuse in India: a major public health issue in India. J Public Health. 2015;38(2):150–7.

Pal B, Murti K, Gupta A, Choudhury U, Rastogi M, Pandey H, et al. Self Medication with Antibiotics among Medical and Pharmacy Students in North India. Am Med J. 2016;7(2):7-12.

Responsible Use of Medicines. A Layman's Handbook by the Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA). 2015;1-110.

Panda A, Pradhan S, Mohapatra G, Mohapatra J. Drug-related problems associated with self-medication and medication guided by prescription: A pharmacy-based survey. Indian J Pharmacol. 2016;48(5):515-21.

Ahmad A, Patel I, Mohanta G. Evaluation of Self Medication Practices in Rural Area of Town Sahaswan at Northern India. Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2014;4(2):73-8.

Jogdand S, Phalake D, Nandal D. Knowledge and pattern about medicine use amongst rural people of Maharashtra. National J Med Res. 2013;3(4):358-61.

Mukunthan A. Rural India is far behind Urban India in every Indicator of Progress. Factly. December 2015. Available Accessed on 1 May 2018.

Goli S. Rural urban divide in health status. 2012; Geography and you. Available at https://www. links/0912f50cf1400c2bae000000.pdf. Accessed on 1st May 2018.

Roy A. Maharashtra remains the richest state: RBI report. Business Standard. 2016. Available at: maharashtra-remains-the-richest-state-rbi-report-116062701337_1.html. Accessed on 1st May 2018.

Duggal R, Dilip T, Raymus P. Health and healthcare in Maharashtra a status report. Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes. 2005. Accessed on 1st May 2018.

Salve P. Mumbai has India's best healthcare. It isn't enough. Business standard. December 2014. Accessed on 1st May 2018.

Census of India. 2011. District level handbook. Accessed on 1st May 2018.

Saharan V, Pandey M. A study of prevalance of self-medication practice among people of Mumbai. Int J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2015;7(7):253-6.

Strom B, Kimmel S, Hennessy S. Special issues in pharmacoepidemiology methodology in textbook of pharmacoepidemiology. John Wiley & Sons. 2nd edtion. 2013:214.

Nautiyal S. Maha FDA cancels 2,241 retail licenses and suspends 1,857 licenses for violation of D&C Act. June 20, 2015. Available from http://www. Accessed on 1st May 2018.

Nautiyal S. Maha FDA cancels 2,241 retail licenses and suspends 1,857 for violation of D&C Act. 2015. Available from Details.aspx?aid=88127&sid=2. Accessed on 1st May 2018.

Nautiyal S. Prescription drugs sold in Maharashtra without renewal of licenses in violation of Schedule H compliance. January 25, 2016. Available from Accessed on 1st May 2018.

Dinesh B, Raghuram T, Radhaiah G, Krishnaswamy K. Profile of Drug Use in Urban and Rural India. Pharmacoeconomics. 1995;7(4):332-46.

Arora H, Singh A, Pathak R, Goel S. Extent and pattern of self-medication use among adult residents of a jurisdiction in North India. IJPSR. 2017;8(5):2205-12.

Bai P, Ravikumar P. Impact of Self-medication among Urban and Rural Literate Population. J Int Med Dentistry. 2016;3(2):73-9.

Wijesinghea P, Jayakody R, Seneviratne R. Prevalence and predictors of self-medication in a selected urban and rural district of Sri Lanka. WHO South-East Asia J Public Health 2012;1(1):28-41.

Aqeel T, Shabbir A, Basharat H, Bukhari M, Mobin S, Shahid H, et al. Prevalence of Self-Medication among Urban and Rural Population of Islamabad, Pakistan. Trop J Pharm Res. 2014;13(4):627-33.

Yuefeng L, Keqin R, Xiaowei R. Use of and factors associated with self-treatment in China. BMC Public Health. 2012;12:995.

Verma S. Family Physicians are Dying a Silent Death, India Today in New Delhi. 2012. Jun 18. Available at: story/family-physicians-aredying-a-silent-death/ 1/201164.html. Accessed on 1st May 2018.

Kumar R. Frequently asked questions about family medicine in India. J Family Med Prim Care. 2016;5(1):3–6.

El-Nimr N, Wahdan I, Wahdan A and Kotb R. Self-medication with drugs and complementary and alternative medicines in Alexandria, Egypt: prevalence, patterns and determinants. Eastern Mediterranean Health J. 2015;21(4):256-65.

Ilhan M, Elif Durukan E, Ilhan S, et al. Self-medication with antibiotics: questionnaire survey among primary care center attendants. Pharmacoepidemiology Drug Safety. 2009;18:1150–7.

Amoako EP, Richardson-Campbell L, Kennedy-Malone L. Self-medication with over-the-counter drugs among elderly adults. J Gerontol Nurs, 2003;29(8):10-5.

Akhtar R, Learmonth A. Geographical Aspects of Health and Disease in India. India: Concept publishing company; 1986.

Kaushal J, Gupta M, Jindal P, Verma S, et al. Self-Medication Patterns and Drug Use Behavior in Housewives Belonging to the Middle Income Group in a City in Northern India. Indian J Community Med. 2012;37(1):16–9.

Balamurugan E, Ganesh K. Prevalence and Pattern of Self Medication use in coastal regions of South India. BJMP. 2011;4(3):428.

Annadurai K, Selvasri S, Ramasamy J. Self Medication: Predictors and Practices among Rural Population of Nellikuppam Village, Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu. JKIMSU. 2017;6(1):90-8.

A comparative study on self-medication practice between some urban & rural areas of Bangladesh. Shahjalal B. A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Pharmacy, East West University, 2016. Available at: stream/handle/123456789/1729/Binder1.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y. Accessed on 1st May 2018.

Keche Y, Yegnanarayan R, Bhoyar S, Agrawal R, Chavan R, Mahendrakar P, et al. Self-medication pattern in rural areas in Pune, India. Int J Med Public Health. 2012;2(4):7-11.

Phalke VD, Phalke DB, Durgawale PM. Self-medication practices in rural Maharashtra. Indian J Community Med. 2006;31:34-5.

Shankar P, Partha P, Shenoy N. Self-medication and non-doctor prescription practices in Pokhara valley, Western Nepal: a questionnaire-based study. BMC Family Pract. 2002;3:17.

Kasulkar A, Gupta M. Self-medication practices among medical students of a private institute. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2015;77:178-82.

Kotwani A, Wattal C, Joshi P, Holloway K. Irrational use of antibiotics and role of the pharmacist: an insight from a qualitative study in New Delhi, India. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2012;37(3):308–12.

Rathnakar U, Sharma N, Garg R. A study on the sale of antimicrobial agents without prescriptions in pharmacies in an urban area in south India. J Clin Diagn Res. 2012;6(6):951–4.

Salunkhe S, Pandit V, Dawane J, Sarda KD, More CS, et al. Study of over the counter sale of antimicrobials in pharmacy outlets in Pune, India: a cross sectional study. Int J Pharma Bio Sci. 2013;4(2):616–22.

Alhomoud F, Aljamea Z, Amahasnah R, Alkhalifah K, Basalelah L, Alhomoud FK. Self-medication and self-prescription with antibiotics in the Middle East—do they really happen? A systematic review of the prevalence, possible reasons, and outcomes. Int J Infect Dis. 2017;57:3-12.

Gayathri S, Selvaraj K, Satyajith P, Mithunkumar GH. Estimation of self - medication practices among rural Kanchipuram, India. Int Arch Integrated Med. 2017;4(10):87-92.

Sarahroodi S, Arzi A, Sawalha A, Ashtarinezhad A. Antibiotics Self-Medication among Southern Iranian University Students. International J Pharmacol. 2010;6:48-52.

Belkina T, Al Warafi A, Hussein Eltom E, Tadjieva N, Kubena A, Vlcek J. Antibiotic use and knowledge in the community of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan. J Infect Dev Ctries. 2014;15(8):424-9.

Mehuys E, Paemeleire K, Van Hees T, Christiaens T, Van Bortel LM, Van Tongelen I, et al. Self-medication of regular headache: a community pharmacy-based survey. Eur J Neurol. 2012;19:1093-9.

Sapkota A, Coker M, Goldstein R. Self-medication with antibiotics for the treatment of menstrual symptoms in southwest Nigeria: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2010;10:610.

Wen Y, Lieber E, Wan D. A qualitative study about self-medication in the community among market vendors in Fuzhou, China. Health Social Care Community. 2011;19:504-13.

Papakosta M, Zavras D, Niakas D. Investigating factors of self-care orientation and self-medication use in a Greek rural area. Rural Remote Health. 2014;14:2349.

Foroutan B, Foroutan R. Household storage of medicines and self-medication practices in south-east Islamic Republic of Iran. East Mediterr Health J. 2014;2:547-53.

Jafari F, Khatony A, Rahmani E. Prevalence of self-medication among the elderly in Kermanshah-Iran. Glob J Health Sci. 2015;7:360-5.

Santos T, Lima D, Nakatani A, et al. Medicine use by the elderly in Goiania, Midwestern Brazil. Rev Saúde Pública. 2013;47:94-103.

Limaye D, Limaye V, Krause G, Fortwengel G. A Systematic Review of the Literature to Assess Self-medication Practices. Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2017;7:1-15.

Ghosh M. Government will regulate sale of medicines via online registration; wholesalers, retailers will be mandated to sell only registered drugs. Available at: 2017/07/21/govt-will-regulate-sale-medicines-via-online-registration-wholesalers-retailers-will-man-dated-sell-registered-drugs/. Accessed on 1st May 2018.




How to Cite

Limaye, D., Limaye, V., Fortwengel, G., & Krause, G. (2018). Self-medication practices in urban and rural areas of western India: a cross sectional study. International Journal Of Community Medicine And Public Health, 5(7), 2672–2685.



Original Research Articles