The Annals of pharmacotherapy vol:39 issue:1 pages:58-62
BACKGROUND: Portrayals of the use of over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics on television may stimulate their use. OBJECTIVE: To explore the association between taking OTC analgesics and television viewing by adolescents. METHODS: A standardized self-administered questionnaire among first-year (mean age 13.16 y) and fourth-year (mean age 16.37 y) secondary students in Flanders, Belgium (n = 2546) was administered in a school setting. The independent variable was television viewing; control variables were school year, gender, drinking alcohol, days off sick, computer gaming, and Internet use. The main outcome variable was monthly use of OTC analgesics. RESULTS: On average, respondents watched 3 hours 18 minutes of television per day (boys more than girls, first-year students more than fourth-year students). Per additional hour of television per day, the odds that respondents were regular users of analgesics were 1.16 times higher (95% CI 1.08 to 1.24). For the 10% heaviest viewers, the odds were 2.30 times higher (95% CI 1.25 to 4.24) compared with the 10% lightest viewers. Odds of OTC analgesic use were higher for students reporting more sick days in the past year (OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.28 to 1.49), regular users of alcohol (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.17 to 1.50), and girls (OR 1.92, 95% CI 1.35 to 2.73). CONCLUSIONS: A relationship was found between watching television and the use of OTC analgesics, even after controlling for gender and lifestyle measures. More research is needed to establish whether this relationship is causal.