Self-medication practice among amateur runners: prevalence and associated factors.

Author:Locquet, Medea
Position::Letter to editor

Dear Editor-in-chief

The term "self-medication" involves consumption, without any physician's advice, of over-the-counter drugs but also of formerly prescribed drugs. Amateur athletes could resort frequently to self-medication for different reasons. Indeed, they may use self-medication products because they are regularly exposed to pain, tiredness, injuries and difficulties with recovery. Sometimes, they can also deliberately use medications in order to enhance their physical performance (Conrad et al., 2004). In 2015, we wanted to identify and better understand self-medication practices in an amateur sports population in the Province of Liege, Belgium. We focused especially on amateur runners because of the growing interest in this population. We went to 8 running events in order to interview amateur runners about their self-medication behaviors exclusively aiming at being better prepared for this specific race. Approval was granted by the Ethics Committee of the University Teaching Hospital of Liege. Data regarding consumption of self-medication drugs just before the running event (i.e. intake maximum last 24 hours before the race) was collected through an anonymous self-administrated questionnaire. The level and intensity of usual sports practice, the membership to a sports club and the length of the race on that specific day (10 or 21km) were also recorded. A total of 358 amateur runners, mainly composed of men (62.0%) with a median age of 39 years (IQR: 29-49) have volunteered. Among the 358 respondents, 112 runners (31.3%) had taken self-medication drugs during the period immediately preceding the running event (i.e. maximum last 24 hours), with the aim of being better prepared for this specific race. Athletes declared consuming self-medication drugs before the race mainly to reduce pain (36.1%) and headaches (16.6%) but also in order to improve their physical performance (9.9%) (Table 1). The two therapeutic classes most often reported were analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Out of the 112 runners who consumed self-medication drugs, 67.0% attested having consumed only one drug before running and 32.1% consumed 2 or more drugs. When we compared characteristics of runners who used self-medication drugs with those who did not, no differences were found regarding gender, age, body mass index and level of education (Table 2). Neither did we noticed significant differences relative to the number of health ailments and the...

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