Background: We performed a systematic review and proportion meta-analysis in order to investigate the prevalence and the adverse effects of the self-medication among the teenagers. Methods: We selected observational studies published from January 1990 until January 2014 that examined the use of self-medication in the adolescents (aged from 13 to 18 years). Keywords used on PubMed, ISI Web of Knowledge and Scopus were 'self medication', 'adolescent*', 'self prescription', 'over the counter preparations' and 'self administration'. Results: Finally, 15 articles met the inclusion criteria, for a total of 143 213 subjects involved. Overall, 50% of adolescents use to take drugs without consulting a physician. Further analyses stratified by number of drugs used demonstrated that in the studies reporting that adolescents use more than one type of drug the prevalence rises up to 63%. Only one study reported the possible adverse effects related to the inappropriate use of drugs, which were experienced by 31.1% of the females and 19.6% of the males. Conclusions: Self-medication use among adolescents is a widespread phenomenon. It would be advisable to give more attention on this public health concern and to promote initiatives, such as mass media campaigns and governmental actions, in order to make the citizens more aware to the risks related to the consumption of drugs without medical consultation. Further studies on adverse effects are urgently needed.
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