• Li Ying TAN School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Taylor's University
  • Siew Siang CHUA School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Taylor's University


Objectives: This study was conducted to identify the types of minor ailment encountered by university students in Malaysia and the action taken in response to these ailments.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on undergraduate students from the various faculties in a major private and a public university in Malaysia. A researcher stationed at different areas of the universities to recruit respondents. If the student agreed to participate, he/she would sign a consent form and then self-filled a structured questionnaire.

Results: Of the 856 respondents included in this study, 68.6% were female and 60.6% rated their health status as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. During the one-month period prior to the study, 748 respondents (87.4%) encountered at least one minor ailment. The five most common minor ailments encountered were headache (58.1%), common cold (42.8%), sore throat (42.6%), cough (40.3%) and back pain (27.6%). The main actions taken were rest at home and self-medication. The most common drug used for the treatment of minor ailments was paracetamol (49% of respondents). Other drugs were used by less than 10% of the respondents. The main source of information was from parents (63.7%), followed by doctors (59.9%), internet (57.9%), pharmacists (33.9%) and friends (33.5%).   

Conclusion: Headache is more common among university students compared to the general population. Further studies are required to understand the cause of headache among this population. 

Keywords: Health behaviour, Medication, Minor ailment, Self-medication, Undergraduates


Download data is not yet available.


1. Welle-Nilsen L, Morken T, Hunskaar S, Granas A. Minor ailments in out-of-hours primary care: An observational study. Scand J Prim Health Care 2010; 29(1):39-44.
2. Fielding S, Porteous T, Ferguson J, Maskrey V, Blyth A, Paudyal V et al. Estimating the burden of minor ailment consultations in general practices and emergency departments through retrospective review of routine data in North East Scotland. Family Pract 2015; 32(2):165-172.
3. Peltzer K, Pengpid S, Mohan K. Prevalence of health behaviors and their associated factors among a sample of university students in India. Int J Adolesc Med Health 2014; 26(4):531-540.
4. Pengpid S, Peltzer K, Mirrakhimov E. Prevalence of health risk behaviors and their associated factors among university students in Kyrgyzstan. Int J Adolesc Med Health 2014; 26(2):175-185.
5. Flaiti M, Badi K, Hakami W, Khan S. Evaluation of self-medication practices in acute diseases among university students in Oman. J Acute Dis 2014; 3(3):249-252.
6. Mehta RK, Sharma S. Knowledge, attitude and practice of self-medication among medical students. IOSR J Nurs Health Sci 2015; 4(1):89-96.
7. Zafar SN, Syed R, Waqar S, Zubairi AJ, Vaqar T, Shaikh M et al. Self-medication amongst university students of Karachi: prevalence, knowledge and attitudes. J Pak Med Assoc 2008; 58(4):214.
8. Helal RM, Abou-ElWafa HS. Self-Medication in University Students from the City of Mansoura, Egypt. J Environ Public Health 2017; 2017:1-7.
9. Gray NJ, Klein JD, Noyce PR, Sesselberg TS, Cantrill JA. Health information-seeking behaviour in adolescence: the place of the internet. Soc Sci Med 2005; (60)7:1467-1478.
10. Ghosh S, Vikas V, Gupta A, Chaudhary R. Evaluation of the practice of self medication among college students in west Uttar Pradesh. Int J Pharma Prof Res 2010; 1(1):14-18.
11. James H, Handu SS, Al Khaja KA, Otoom S, Sequeira RP. Evaluation of the knowledge, attitude and practice of self-medication among first-year medical students. Med Princ Pract 2006; 15(4):270-275.
12. Klemenc-Ketis Z, Hladnik Z, Kersnik J. Self-medication among healthcare and non-healthcare students at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Med Princ Pract 2010; 19(5):395-401.
13. Ministry of Education Malaysia. Quick Facts 2018: Malaysia Educational Statistics 2018: 34. Accessed 30 August 2020.
14. Gutema GB, Gadisa DA, Kidanemariam ZA, Berhe DF, Berhe AH, Hadera MG et al. Self-Medication Practices among Health Sciences Students: The Case of Mekelle University. J Applied Pharm Sci 2011; 1(10):183-9.
15. Aggarwal N, Anand T, Kishore J, Ingle GK. Low back pain and associated risk factors among undergraduate students of a medical college in Delhi. Educ Health 2013; 26:103.
16. Gilkey DP, Keefe TJ, Peel JL, Kassab OM, Kennedy CA. Risk factors associated with back pain: a cross-sectional study of 963 college students. J Manip Physiol Ther 2010; 33(2):88-95.
17. Peppa M, Edmunds WJ, Funk S. Disease severity determines health-seeking behaviour amongst individuals with influenza-like illness in an internet-based cohort. BMC Infect Dis 2017; 17(1): 238.
18. Institute for Public Health and Ministry of Health Malaysia. National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 Healthcare Demand Volume III, 2015: 18. Accessed 30 August 2020.
19. Lim KK, Teh CC. A cross sectional study of public knowledge and attitude towards antibiotics in Putrajaya, Malaysia. South Med Rev 2012; 5(2):26.
20. Sontakke SD, Bajait CS, Pimpalkhute SA, Jaiswal KM, Jaiswal SR. Comparative Study of Evaluation of Self-Medication Practices in First and Third Year Medical Students. Int J Biol Med Res, 2011; 2(2):561-4.
21. Sarahroodi S, Maleki-Jamshid A, Sawalha AF, Mikaili P, Safaeian L. Pattern of self-medication with analgesics among Iranian University students in central Iran. J Family Comm Med 2012; 19(2):125-9.
22. Bhattarai N, Basyal D, Bhattarai N. Self medication practice among undergraduate pharmacy students in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Int J Pharm Sci Res 2014; 5(11):737-46.
23. El Kahi HA, Rizk GA, Hlais SA, Adib SM. Health-care-seeking behaviour among university students in Lebanon. East Mediterr Health J 2012; 18(6):598.
24. Coelha RB, Costa FA. Impact of Pharmaceutical Counseling in Minor Health Problems in Rural Portugal. Pharm Pract 2014; 12(4):451.
25. Porteous T, Ryan M, Bond C, Watson M, Watson V. Managing Minor Ailments; The Public’s Preferences for Attributes of Community Pharmacies. A Discrete Choice Experiment. PLoS ONE 2016; 11(3):1-15.
26. Sultan K, Joshua VR, Misra U. Health information seeking behaviour of college students in the Sultanate of Oman. Khyber Med Uni J 2017; 9(1):8-14.
27. Yilma TM, Inthiran A, Reidpath D. College students from developing countries: Where do they get health information. In Proceedings of the 2nd SIGIR workshop on Medical Information Retrieval (MedIR), 2016.
13 Views | Downloads
How to Cite
Tan, L. Y., and S. S. CHUA. “HEALTH SEEKING BEHAVIOUR TOWARDS MINOR AILMENTS AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN MALAYSIA”. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol. 13, no. 2, Jan. 2021,
Original Article(s)