Evid Based Nurs 8:91 doi:10.1136/ebn.8.3.91
  • Qualitative

Parents of young children used over the counter medication to alleviate symptoms and to change children’s behaviour

 Q What are the individual and contextual factors and the social processes that support the use of over the counter (OTC) medication in children?


Qualitative study.




40 parents (38 mothers plus 2 partners) who were primary caregivers of children <5 years of age, were mostly middle class, and were in a relationship. 75% of parents had >1 child, and >50% worked or studied part time.


Semistructured interviews were used to collect demographic data. Unstructured interviews (duration 2 h) were used to elicit information about the most recent occasion when an OTC medication was given, including details about the course of illness (when applicable), identified symptoms, and contextual factors surrounding OTC medication use. Vitamin or supplement use was not considered. Data from interviews were thematically analysed.


All of the parents gave paracetamol (acetaminophen) to their children. The next most commonly used …

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