Self-medication among people living with hypertension: A review

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Journal Article
Family Practice, 2017, 34 (2), pp. 147 - 153
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© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Background. Self-medication is commonly practised by patients, underpinned by health beliefs that affect their adherence to medication regimens, and impacting on treatment outcomes. Objectives. This review explores the scope of self-medication practices among people with hypertension, in terms of the scale of use, types of medication and influencing factors. Method. A comprehensive search of English language, peer-reviewed literature published between 2000 and 2014 was performed. Twenty-seven studies met the inclusion criteria; 22 of these focused on complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs). Results. Anti-hypertensive medications are listed among the 11% of products that patients reportedly obtain over-the-counter (OTC) for self-medication. On average, 25% of patients use CAMs, mostly herbs, to lower blood pressure. Recommendations by family, friends and neighbours are the most influential factors for self-medication with CAMs. Faith in treatment with CAMs, dissatisfaction with conventional medicine and the desire to reduce medication costs are also cited. Most (70%) patients with hypertension take OTC medicines to treat minor illnesses. The concurrent use of anti-hypertensive medications with analgesics and herbal medicines is commonly practised. The sociodemographic profile of patients engaging in self-medication differs markedly in the articles reviewed; self-medication practices cannot be attributed to a particular profile. Low disclosure of self-medication is consistently reported. Conclusion. This review highlights a high proportion of people with hypertension practise selfmedication. Further studies are needed to assess the impact of self-medication with OTC and anti-hypertensive medications on hypertension treatment. Health professionals involved in hypertension management should be mindful of any types of self-medication practices.
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