Utilization of self-medication and prescription drugs among 15-year-old children from the German GINIplus birth cohort

S. Italia*, H. Brand, J. Heinrich, D. Berdel, A. von Berg, S.B. Wolfenstetter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose The objective was to analyse paediatric drug utilization in relation to self-medication, prescription drugs, and the most reported therapeutic drug categories.

Methods Data were collected for 3013 children on their utilization of drugs (4-week prevalence) from a German birth cohort study (GINIplus, 15-year follow-up) using a self-administered questionnaire. The drugs were grouped into over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs, and were classified according to the anatomical therapeutic chemical classification system. Predictors were analysed using a logistic regression model with four independent variables (gender, study area, maternal education, and parental income).

Results Some 69% of the reported 2489 drugs were over-the-counter drugs, and 31% were prescription drugs. The 4-week prevalence for using any type of drug was 41.0%. Drug categories with high prevalence rates of use were antiinflammatory drugs (10.3%), analgesics (7.1%), and antiallergics (5.0%).

Factors associated with higher use of over-the-counter drugs were female gender (OR = 1.56, p <0.0001) and higher maternal education (OR = 1.60, p = 0.0021; university degree vs. secondary high school). Maternal education was correlated with the use of prescribed or self-medicated antiallergics (positive association) and contraceptives (negative association). The use of antibiotics, methylphenidate, and drugs for thyroid therapy was associated with lower parental income.

Conclusion The use of over-the-counter drugs in 15-year-old children from the GINIplus birth cohort is very common and is predicted by socioeconomic factors such as maternal education. This has to be considered by health care managers when deciding about the exclusion of over-the-counter drugs (normally used for self-medication) from reimbursement or the deregulation of drug sales. Copyright (C) 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1133-1143
Number of pages11
JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • Germany
  • adolescent
  • drug utilization
  • self-medication
  • prescription drugs
  • socioeconomic factors
  • pharmacoepidemiology

Cite this