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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Self-medication with antibiotics in rural population in Greece: a cross-sectional multicenter study

Eystathios Skliros, Panagiotis Merkouris, Athanasia Papazafiropoulou*, Aristofanis Gikas, George Matzouranis, Christos Papafragos, Ioannis Tsakanikas, Irene Zarbala, Alexios Vasibosis, Petroula Stamataki and Alexios Sotiropoulos

Author Affiliations

3rd Department of Internal Medicine and Center of Diabetes, General Hospital of Nikaia "Ag. Panteleimon" - Piraeus, Greece, 3 D.Mantouvalou Street, GR-184 54 Nikaia, Greece

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BMC Family Practice 2010, 11:58  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-58

Published: 8 August 2010



Self-medication is an important driver of antimicrobial overuse as well as a worldwide problem. The aim of the present study was to estimate the use of antibiotics, without medical prescription, in a sample of rural population presenting in primary care in southern Greece.


The study included data from 1,139 randomly selected adults (545 men/594 women, mean age ± SD: 56.2 ± 19.8 years), who visited the 6 rural Health Centres of southern Greece, between November 2009 and January 2010. The eligible participants were sought out on a one-to-one basis and asked to answer an anonymous questionnaire.


Use of antibiotics within the past 12 months was reported by 888 participants (77.9%). 508 individuals (44.6%) reported that they had received antibiotics without medical prescription at least one time. The major source of self-medication was the pharmacy without prescription (76.2%). The antibiotics most frequently used for self-medication were amoxicillin (18.3%), amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (15.4%), cefaclor (9.7%), cefuroxim (7.9%), cefprozil (4.7%) and ciprofloxacin (2.3%). Fever (41.2%), common cold (32.0%) and sore throat (20.6%) were the most frequent indications for the use of self-medicated antibiotics.


In Greece, despite the open and rapid access to primary care services, it appears that a high proportion of rural adult population use antibiotics without medical prescription preferably for fever and common cold.