Thesis Title

Over-The-Counter Drug Use Among Adolescents


Rita Snavely

Date of Graduation

Spring 2001


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Kathryn Hope

Subject Categories



Although extensive studies have been done about illicit drug use in the adolescent population, little is known about adolescent use of over-the-counter drugs. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence and types of OTC drug use by adolescents and their relationship to antecedent factors. A cross-sectional survey of 67 high school students, from a midwestern high school, was done using a self-report questionnaire. Ninety-two percent of the subjects used ibuprofen, 89% used acetaminophen, and 62% used aspirin during their lifetime. Significant social factors related to OTC drug use were friends' influence on the most caffeine ever used and friends' approval of shorter intervals between doses of pain relievers. The younger the subjects were when they started using OTC drugs, the less aware parents were about their OTC drug use. Subjects who waited less time between doses of pain reliever, used more than directed, or reported a higher dose as the most pain reliever ever taken believed that more pain reliever works quicker, that it was OK to take more than the package directed, or that pain relievers purchased OTC couldn't hurt them. In order to make appropriate decisions about providing health care services and health education for adolescents, health educators and health care providers need more information about OTC drug use among adolescents.


© Rita Snavely