1 Social Factors in Health Promotion Research Center, Hormozgan Health Research Institute, Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences, Bandar Abbas, Iran

2 Department of Health Information Technology, Faculty of Paramedicine, Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences, Bandar Abbas, Iran

3 Department of Midwifery, Nursing and Midwifery School, Jiroft University of Medical Sciences, Jiroft, Iran

4 Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Center, Hormozgan Univesity of Medical Sciences, Bandar Abbas, Iran

5 Department of Nursing, Nursing and Midwifery School, Jiroft University of Medical Sciences, Jiroft, Iran


BACKGROUND: Self‑medication is the use of unprescribed drugs to treat a disease. Elderly
self‑medication can be more dangerous compared to other age groups because of changes in organ
functions that occur due to senescence. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of self‑medication
in the elderly, its related factors, and common drugs used in this regard.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Electronic databases such as PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science
were searched between January 2016 and June 2021. The search strategy was built on two core
concepts: “self‑medication” and “aged”. The search was limited to original articles in the English
language. A random effect model was used to estimate the pooled prevalence of self‑medication.
Heterogeneity among studies was assessed using both the I2
 statistic and the χ2
 test. Also, a
meta‑regression model was used to investigate the potential sources of heterogeneity of the studies.
RESULTS: Out of 520 non‑duplicate studies, 38 were included in the meta‑analysis. Self‑medication
in the elderly ranged from 0.3% to 82%. The pooled proportion of self‑medication was 36% (95%
CI: 27%–45%). The result of the χ2
 test and the I2
 index (P < 0.001, I2 = 99.90%) revealed notable
heterogeneity among the included studies in the meta‑analysis. The meta‑regression showed a
significant association between the sample size (adjusted β = −0.01; P = 0.043) and the pooled
proportion of self‑medication.
CONCLUSION: The prevalence of self‑medication in the elderly is high. Education through mass
media to raise awareness about the dangers of self‑medication can help solve this problem.


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