Evidence of factors influencing self-medication with antibiotics in low and middle-income countries: a systematic scoping review
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Self-medication with antibiotics (SMA) is a practice of global concern with a higher incidence within the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Despite worldwide efforts to control and promote the rational use of antibiotics, the continuing practice of SMA systematically exposes individuals and communities to the risk of antibiotic resistance and a host of other antibiotic side-effects. This systematic scoping review maps evidence on the factors influencing SMA in these settings. The search strategy involved electronic databases including PubMed, Web of science, Science Direct, EBSCOhost, Google Scholar, BioMed Central, and the World Health Organization Library. PRISMA P guidelines and Arksey and O'Malley's framework were used. Thematic analysis was used to identify the factors that influence the practices of SMA in LMICs. The Mixed Method Appraisal Tool (MMAT), version 2011, was used to assess the quality of the included primary studies. Fifteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Studies included participants from the following LMICs: Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Yemen. The findings of the review emphasized a considerable high prevalence of SMA, ranging from 8.1% to 93%, with an association with the level of education, monthly income, and gender of participants. Accessibility, affordability, and conditions of health facilities, as well as the health-seeking behavior, are factors that influence SMA in LMICs. Health conditions such as a sore throat, common cold, cough, headache, toothache, flu-like symptoms, pain relief, fever, runny nose, toothache, upper respiratory tract infections, and urinary tract infection were the major complaints that led to the practices of SMA. There is a considerable level of research evidence predominantly in some LMICs from Asia, with less evidence from African LMICs. Sociocultural determinants of health associated with the structure and conditions of health system as well as the health- seeking behavior are the main factors influencing SMA. Contextual and comprehensive studies on the factors influencing the non-prescribed use of antibiotics are needed to enable evidence-based strategies to correctly address the utilization of antibiotics and contain the problem of antimicrobial resistance, especially within the LMICs.