einstein (São Paulo). 21/Nov/2018;16(4):eAO4372.

Profile of drugs used for self-medication by elderly attended at a referral center

Samanta Bárbara Vieira de Oliveira ORCID logo , Soraya Coelho Costa Barroso ORCID logo , Maria Aparecida Camargos Bicalho ORCID logo , Adriano Max Moreira Reis ORCID logo

DOI: 10.31744/einstein_journal/2018AO4372



To determine the profile of medications used for self-medication by the elderly.


A cross-sectional study based on interviews with elderly seen at a reference center for Elderly Health of a teaching hospital, from July 2014 to July 2015. Clinical, demographic and pharmacotherapeutic data were collected.


A total of 170 elderly were interviewed, 85.9% female, and the median age was 76 years. The frequency of self-medication was 80.5%. The most used medications for self-medication were central acting muscle relaxants, analgesics and antipyretics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and antirheumatic agents. Among the elderly who practiced self-medication, 55.5% used drugs that were inappropriate for the elderly, according to Beers criteria of 2015, and 56.9% used medications that showed therapeutic duplicity with the prescribed drugs. We identified 57 drugs used for self-medication, of which 30 (52.6%) were classified as over-the-counter and 27 (47.4%) as prescription drugs. Approximately 68.6% of elderly had at least one interaction involving drugs prescribed and those used for self-medication.


The practice of self-medication was frequent in the elderly studied. The widespread use of over-the-counter drugs and/or potentially inappropriate medications for elderly increases the risk of drug interactions and adverse events.

Profile of drugs used for self-medication by elderly attended at a referral center