Use and misuse of aspirin in rural Ethiopia

P Duncan, G Aref-Adib, J Britton, G Davey, Andrea Venn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: To investigate ability to distinguish simple analgesics, to document misconceptions about aspirin use, and to identify strategies to diminish potentially harmful aspirin use in Ethiopia.

DESIGN: Qualitative study (eight focus group discussions) used to inform cross-sectional survey.

SETTING: Butajira, a small town in southern Ethiopia, and surrounding rural areas.

PARTICIPANTS: Purposively selected informants for focus groups; random sample of urban and rural residents for cross-sectional survey.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Ability to distinguish aspirin from paracetamol; proportion using aspirin; proportion aware of common risks of aspirin.

RESULTS: Questionnaires were completed by 204 of the 250 residents sampled (82% response). Three-quarters of survey participants knew the difference between aspirin and paracetamol. Aspirin was used by 7.3% of respondents, and was mainly taken for headache and fever. In focus group discussions there was a suggestion that aspirin was considered particularly useful for children. There was very low awareness of the risks of using aspirin in children (2.5% unprompted, 18.6% prompted) or in people with asthma (1% unprompted, 5.9% prompted). Aspirin is cheap and widely available in urban and rural areas.

CONCLUSION: Awareness of the risks of aspirin use by children and in asthma is extremely low in this rural Ethiopian setting. Medications are purchased with minimal packaging by a population with low literacy. Drug dispensers and vendors must be trained to convey simple verbal warnings about aspirin use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-6
Number of pages6
JournalEast African Wildlife Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


  • Acetaminophen
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aspirin
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Fever
  • Focus Groups
  • Headache
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Qualitative Research
  • Questionnaires
  • Rural Health Services
  • Rural Population
  • Self Medication


Dive into the research topics of 'Use and misuse of aspirin in rural Ethiopia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this