Knowledge about medicine use among University students is scarce, as most studies have been conducted on adolescents and adult populations.
The aim of this study was to analyse medicine use, and especially the pattern of use of analgesics due to different health related variables in the student population (age 18-35 years) at the University of Oslo.
A survey on health and medicine use among Norwegian students was carried out at the University of Oslo in 2003 and 2005. This study was conducted as a part of the HELT study (HELse og Trivsel blant studenter). In 2003 and 2005, the same questionnaire was sent to a random selection of 1800 Norwegian students. 424 of the students answered both questionnaires. These students constitute the population of our study.
Compared to male students, a larger part of the female population reported to have used medicine in the preceding four weeks. In 2003, 70% of the female students and 38% of the male students had used OTC (over-the counter) analgesics monthly. The figures in 2005 were 60% and 35% respectively. The eldest female students were less likely than the younger female students to have used OTC analgesics during the past four weeks in 2005. The use of prescribed analgesics was low, as compared to the use of OTCs. Within the group of students who reported to have poor self-perceived health, a larger part of the female than the male students used analgesics. Female students were also more likely to report ailments such as headache, stomach ache and muscular pain. A larger percentage of the female students than the male students used analgesics due to this pain.
The patterns of use of analgesics in university students vary according to gender and age. This pattern was not detected in other groups of medicine. Medicine use among university students has not changed over a two-year period. More female students than male students have used analgesics in the last four weeks. The younger female students were more prone to have used OTC analgesics than the eldest female students during the previous four weeks.