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Keywords:

  • self-medication;
  • questionnaires;
  • emergency service;
  • hospital;
  • drug toxicity;
  • prevention and control;
  • pharmacoepidemiology

ABSTRACT

Purpose

To develop the first questionnaire to obtain a complete medication history by documenting self-medication history in adult patients admitted to a medical emergency department (ED).

Methods

A Questionnaire to document Self-Medicating Behaviours (QSMB) was developed between January and September 2008 (reference period), tested and refined between October and December 2008, and used routinely between January and December 2009 (routine period) in a tertiary care medical ED. The rate of SMBs measured with QSMB during the routine period was compared to the SMB rate measured with a spontaneous reporting method during the reference period. As survey teams changed every trimester, we also analysed the evolution of SMB rate over time.

Results

QSMB is divided into two parts. The first part consists of 20 closed-ended questions exploring all indications and dimensions of self-medication. The second part assesses the characteristics of each medication mentioned by the patient in the first 20 questions. The patients interviewed during reference and routine periods did not significantly differ. The routine period patients reported a third more SMBs (89.8% vs 57.6%, respectively; p < 0.0001) and twice more self-medication drugs than the reference period patients. SMB rate was significantly different between the survey teams during the reference period (p < 0.0001), but not during the routine period (p = 0.078).

Conclusions

This questionnaire complements the traditional tools that are already available to collect medication histories of prescribed drugs. It may improve the recognition of iatrogenic conditions related to self-medication, and provide support to public health efforts and research programs on self-medication. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.