International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 113–120 | Cite as

Association between parental attitudes and self-medication of their children

  • Sanna SiponenEmail author
  • Riitta Ahonen
  • Vesa Kiviniemi
  • Katri Hämeen-Anttila
Research Article


Background The association between parental attitudes and medication administered to their children has been studied mainly regarding specific diseases and ailments, e.g. asthma, fever and pain. Little is known about how parental attitudes toward medicines in general are associated with how they medicate their children using self-medication. Objective The aim of this study was to identify how parental attitudes toward medicines are associated with how they medicate their children with self-medication including the use of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs). Setting A cross-sectional population-based study was conducted in the spring of 2007. The study sample consisted of a random sample of Finnish children under 12 years of age (n = 6,000). Method A questionnaire was sent to parents, and the parent who usually takes responsibility for the child´s medication was instructed to answer the questionnaire. Main outcome measure The responding parent was asked to report the child’s use of OTC medicines and CAMs during the preceding 2 days. The parent’s attitude toward medicines was measured by 18 statements using a 5-item Likert scale. Results CAM use was least likely among children whose parent had a positive view of prescription medicines. In contrast, a positive attitude toward OTC medicines by a parent was associated with both, OTC medicine and CAM use among children, whereas, parental worry about the risks of medicines predicted the use of CAMs among children. Conclusion This study showed that parental attitudes toward medicines have an impact on how they medicate their children, especially with CAMs. This finding highlights the fact that health care professionals should negotiate a child’s treatment, taking into account parental views toward medicines, and previous use of self-medication.


Children Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) Finland Over-the-counter (OTC), medicine Parental attitudes Population-based survey 



We want to thank research assistants Paula Räsänen and Seija Pirhonen for their valuable help during the data collection process.


No external funding was received for this study. All the costs were covered by the Department of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland.

Conflicts of interest

The authors do not have any conflicts of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sanna Siponen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Riitta Ahonen
    • 1
  • Vesa Kiviniemi
    • 2
  • Katri Hämeen-Anttila
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PharmacyUniversity of Eastern FinlandKuopioFinland
  2. 2.Finnish Medicines Agency FimeaHelsinkiFinland

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