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Arch Hellen Med, 34(4), July-August 2017, 491-503


Frequency of and factors associated with non-prescribed medication of pre-school children in Athens, Greece

F. Andritsou,1 V. Benetou,2 K. Michail,3 N. Pantazis,2 M. Giannakopoulou,4 I. Pavlopoulou4
1Postgraduate Programme, Faculty of Nursing, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens,
2Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, Faculty of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens,
3Laboratory of Pediatric Research, Faculty of Nursing, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens,
4Faculty of Nursing, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

OBJECTIVE To investigate the frequency of administration of medication without prescription in pre-school children and to identify associated factors. Both over-the-counter medicines (OTCs) and those that normally require a doctor's prescription but were given without one were included.

METHOD The study was conducted in Athens municipal nursery schools in the period May–June 2011. Data were collected from the parents after they had been informed of the study, using a predesigned questionnaire. Multivariate logistic regression models were used for statistical analysis.

RESULTS Of 4,608 questionnaires distributed, 1,896 were returned completed (43.1% participation rate). The majority of parents (95.1%) reported that they had administered at least one non-prescribed medication to their child during the previous 12 months. The non-prescribed medicines in the OTC category most frequently given were analgesics/antipyretics (91%). In the category of medicines requiring prescription, antibiotics were given most frequently (16.4%). It was estimated that, on average, each parent had given their child 1.81 different antipyretic/ analgesic and 1.42 different antibiotics during the 12-month period. The most commonly used antipyretic/ analgesic medicine given was paracetamol (57.1%), usually for the treatment of fever (78.8%). Of the antibiotics, second generation cephalosporins (30.6%) and amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (29.2%), for the treatment of infections of the upper respiratory tract (45.5%), were the most frequently administered. Parents who were not well informed concerning OTCs were 73.5% less likely to administer analgesic/antipyretics without prescription compared with those who reported relevant knowledge (relative ratio [RR]=0.27, p<0.001). Factors which appeared to significantly increase the likelihood of administration of antipyretic/analgesics were the child's age of 4–6 years, higher paternal educational status, and maternal foreign nationality, while foreign paternal nationality and the increasing age of parents were associated with administration of antibiotics without prescription (p<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS A significant percentage of parents in Athens have administered to their pre-school children at least one medicine without a prescription, including antibiotics, to treat symptoms common in childhood. Demographic and social factors, including nationality, the educational level and age of the parents, and the age of the child, as well as factors related to information and communication, affected the likelihood of administration of antipyretic/analgesics and antibiotics to children without prescription.

Key words: Antibiotics, Non-prescription drugs, Over-the counter drugs (OTC), Pre-school children.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine