Over-the-Counter Medication Use among Preschool Age Children

Date of Graduation

Fall 2006


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Kathryn Hope


The use of over-the-counter (OTC) medication is a key component in the parenting of young children. While studies on the effectiveness of OTC medications in the treatment of minor illnesses of young children are not widely available, limited research has demonstrated little symptom relief. Despite these findings, parents have typically viewed OTC medications in a positive light and as instrumental in helping their child recover. The utilization of such medication must be considered and examined by health professionals to ensure the health and safety of children. Advance practice nurses are in key positions to evaluate the effects of these medications, and to educate in their appropriate use. The purpose of this study was to identify parental attitudes and beliefs affecting the choice to use OTC medications. A determination of reasoning behind such choices provided a view of parental knowledge and awareness concerting these medications. Several concepts from Rosenstock, Strecher, and Becker’s (1988) health Belief Model (HBM), incorporating the idea of health actions arising from individual perceptions, were utilized to investigate parental attitudes and beliefs. A descriptive, correlational design was used, replicating research by Ecklund and Ross (2001). Study participants were recruited through a convenience sample of 59 parents of preschool age children. An OTC Medication Questionnaire, Medicine Decisions Questionnaire, and Family Information form (Ecklund & Ross) was distributed to parents at school. Data analyses described how socioeconomic factors, and parental attitudes and beliefs about severity of illness, susceptibility to illness, barriers, benefits, cues to action, and self-efficacy affected the choice to utilize OTC medications including complimentary and alternative medications.


over-the-counter medications, non-prescription drugs, alternative medications, preschool children, pediatric drug use

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© Kathleen Purvis