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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787


ARRAIS, Paulo Sérgio Dourado et al. Prevalence of self-medication in Brazil and associated factors. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2016, vol.50, suppl.2, 13s. ISSN 1518-8787.


To analyze the prevalence and associated factors regarding the use of medicines by self-medication in Brazil.


This cross-sectional population-based study was conducted using data from the PNAUM (National Survey on Access, Use and Promotion of Rational Use of Medicines), collected between September 2013 and February 2014 by interviews at the homes of the respondents. All people who reported using any medicines not prescribed by a doctor or dentist were classified as self-medication practitioners. Crude and adjusted prevalence ratios (Poisson regression) and their respective 95% confidence intervals were calculated in order to investigate the factors associated with the use of self-medication by medicines. The independent variables were: sociodemographic characteristics, health conditions and access to and use of health services. In addition, the most commonly consumed medicines by self-medication were individually identified.


The self-medication prevalence in Brazil was 16.1% (95%CI 15.0–17.5), with it being highest in the Northeast region (23.8%; 95%CI 21.6–26.2). Following the adjusted analysis, self-medication was observed to be associated with females, inhabitants from the North, Northeast and Midwest regions and individuals that have had one, or two or more chronic diseases. Analgesics and muscle relaxants were the therapeutic groups most used for self-medication, with dipyrone being the most consumed medicines. In general, most of the medicines used for self-medication were classified as non-prescriptive (65.5%).


Self-medication is common practice in Brazil and mainly involves the use of non-prescription medicines; therefore, the users of such should be made aware of the possible risks.

Keywords : Self Medication; Drug Utilization; Socioeconomic Factors; Pharmacoepidemiology; Health Surveys.

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