Prevalence of Self-Medication among Pregnant Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis




Background: Self‑medication is prevalent among pregnant women. It can cause adverse effects such as fetal anomalies. Objectives: This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of self‑medication among Iranian pregnant women. Methods: This was a systematic review and meta‑analysis study. Online national and international databases (namely, Scientific Information Database, MagIran, Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar) were searched using the following keywords: “pregnancy,” “gravidity,” “self‑treatment,” “self‑medication,” “non‑prescription,” “over‑the‑counter,” “self‑administered,” “self‑reported,” “Iran,” “prevalence,” “occurrence,” “frequency,” and “epidemiology.” In total, 128 studies were retrieved. Only 13 studies fulfilled eligibility criteria, i.e. cross‑sectional design and publication in Persian or English. Methodological quality of the studies was assessed using a tool with four items, namely design, sample description, sample size, and methods. Meta‑analysis was performed using the random‑effects model and heterogeneity among the studies was assessed using the I2 index. Results: The total number of samples in the 13 analyzed studies was 4874. The overall self‑medication prevalence was 38.46% (95% confidence interval: 27.42–49.49). Meta‑regression analysis revealed no significant relationships between self‑medication prevalence and methodological quality score (P = 0.409), participants’ mean age (P = 0.400), sample size (P = 0.248), and publication year (P = 0.704). Conclusion: The overall prevalence of self‑medication among Iranian pregnant women is 38.46%. Study findings can be used to design and implement interventions to reduce self‑medication among pregnant women. Educational interventions are needed to improve the knowledge of pregnant women and health‑care providers about the effects of self‑medication, particularly herbal self‑medication.