Background: Self-Medication (SM) is a practice of using medications to treat selfdiagnosed
symptoms without a legitimate prescription by a health care professional. Alongside
posing a burden on a patient, SM practices are associated with certain unfavourable health conditions
such as drug-resistance, adverse effects, drug-interactions, including death.
Objective: To systematically review and quantify the prevalence of SM practices and its associated
factors in India.
Methods: A comprehensive systematic search was performed using scientific databases such as
PubMed and Cochrane library for the peer-reviewed research articles that were conducted in India
without any language and date restrictions. Studies which were cross-sectional by design and assessing
the prevalence and predictors of SM practices in India were considered for the review, and
all the relevant articles were screened for their eligibility.
Results: Of 248 articles, a total of 17 articles comprising of 10,248 participants were included in the
meta-analysis. Overall, the mean prevalence of SM practices in India was observed to be 53.57%.
Familiarity with the medication appears to be a major reason to practice SM (PR: 30.45; 95%
Confidence Interval [CI]: 17.08-43.82; 6 studies), and the practice was noticed more among
individuals from a middle-lower class family with a prevalence rate of 26.31 (95%CI: 2.02-50.60;
P<0.0001). Minor ailments were the primary reason for practicing SM (PR: 42.46; 95%CI: 21.87-
63.06), among which headache was the most commonly reported (PR: 41.53; 95%CI: 18.05-65.02).
Conclusion: Self-medication practices are quite frequent in India. While NSAIDs and anti-allergens
are the most frequently utilized self-medicated drugs used for headache and cold and cough.