Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Type



Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience

Director of Thesis

Dr. Patricia H. Fabel

First Reader

Dr. P. Brandon Bookstaver

Second Reader

Dr. P. Brandon Bookstaver


Objective: To investigate whether the tendency to self-medicate increases as students progress though the pharmacy curriculum.

Design: An online survey was administered through Survey Monkey by a link sent to the email addresses of students who attended the South Carolina College of Pharmacy/ University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP/USC-COP) during the 2017-2018 school year.

Methods: Self-medication was defined as the use of over-the-counter (OTC) medications, medications prescribed to another person, and recreational (i.e. alcohol, tobacco) or illicit substances for therapeutic purposes. The primary outcome was the likelihood of each class of pharmacy students to self-medicate based on a Likert scale. Data was analyzed using measures of central tendency.

Results: 109 students completed the survey. The likelihood to self-medicate had an overall increase from first year to fourth year students, with third year students being the most likely to participate in self-medication. The most important reason to start self-medication was “have had a similar problem before” and the most important reason to stop was “symptoms are worsening.” The most common medications used for self-treatment were analgesics and the most frequent condition was headaches/migraines.

Conclusion: Pharmacy students’ tendencies to self-medicate increased as they progressed through the didactic pharmacy curriculum, as first year students were the least likely to self-medicate with a gradual increase in likelihood as education increased. Fourth year students were not the most likely to self-medicate which could be explained by circumstances surrounding the last year of pharmacy school.

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© 2018, Rebekah Lee Crandall and Danielle O'Neal