The Impact of the Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Users in Serbia on OTC Drug Consumption

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Aim of this research is to analyze how the socio-demographic characteristics of users of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in Serbia influence and impact their consumption of OTC drugs. Respondents and methods: The study employed the third edition of the National Health Survey of the Republic of Serbia, published in 2013, as a data source covering the Serbian population. The sample comprised of 550 interviewed individuals who had been applying a variety of CAM treatments over the previous 12 months. Their socio-demographic characteristics were used as independent variables impacting the consumption of OTC drugs over the previous 2-week period, representing the dependent variable. Results: Two thirds (65.3%) of the CAM users consumed OTC drugs at their own discretion, without recommendation by a physician or a relevant prescription. Users of OTC drugs were most often females whose ages ranged within the average interval of 49.16 ± 16.02, whose education level was to secondary school diploma, who were married and employed, lived in urban areas, mostly Belgrade, belonged to the middle-income group, and followed relevant headlines via public information channels (TV, the internet, radio, and print). Comparison of the results revealed, on the one hand, that 2/3 of respondents who had used and 1/3 of those who did not consume OTC drugs had undergone fecal occult blood tests over the past year (p < 0.05) and, on the other hand, that those respondents had been less frequently hospitalized in the previous year (p = 0.05). In addition, the same responders were found to access available health care services more frequently than did others (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Since, according to the statistics, it is highly likely that respondents who were CAM- and OTC drug-users would be less frequently hospitalized and not use medical leave, these results provide a strong indication that this phenomenon should be investigated in more depth. Moreover, the areas to be considered when defining strategies for determining patient treatments should also include the influence of socio-demographic factors on the patient's consciousness that would enable easier understanding of the proper usage of OTC drugs.


External organisations
  • European Centre for Peace and Development (ECPD)
  • University of Defence, Belgrade
  • Institute of Public Health Kragujevac
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • CAM, complementary and alternative medicine, health care, national health survey, OTC drugs, socio-demographic factors
Original languageEnglish
Article number303
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 24
Publication categoryResearch