Patterns of laxative use in the Yeoville area

Abstract Laxatives appear to be one of the most common group of drugs sold in retail pharmacy presently. Use of these drugs appears to be by all patients regardless of age, gender, race, education level and income group. Reasons for ingestion of laxatives also appear to vary among patients. This study investigated patients wishing to purchase laxatives from a suburban pharmacy in Johannesburg located near the inner-city. It clarified the patient’s own perception of what constipation is, why he or she ingested this formulation and for how long this product had been used. The study also reviews adverse effects that patients experienced using these products. Following the exclusion criteria, the sample size totaled 197. Data was collected over a period of ten weeks from February 2006 until April 2006, in which patients wishing to purchase laxatives were asked to complete a confidential questionnaire regarding their use of laxatives. Results obtained revealed that there is widespread misuse of laxative products amongst the patients questioned. A large percentage of patients (66%) were not in their own opinion constipated and were using laxatives for purposes other than for which these products are indicated. Many patients (71%) are ignorant as to normal frequency of bowel habits, and 81% of patients were using laxatives to treat conditions other than constipation. An encouraging aspect of this study showed that with appropriate education and drug control, many patients could be taught to treat their medical conditions more correctly than by using a laxative as a generalized detoxification product to cure all illnesses.
laxative use, laxative misue or abuse