Background: Prescription medicine borrowing and sharing has received little attention in
the research literature, despite serious potential health risks. While this behaviour is
prevalent across all ages, it appears to be particularly high among young adults.
Aims: To determine the prevalence and the characteristics of sharing and borrowing
medicines among students in an Irish University.
Method: Web survey of University College Cork 18-25 year old undergraduates.
Results: A total of 343 completed the questionnaire. A quarter (26%) reported borrowing,
20% reported sharing and 12% reported both sharing and borrowing prescription drugs,
primarily to avoid the cost (37%), the inconvenience of going to a doctor (22%) and not
feeling sick enough to see a medical professional (14%). Participants borrowed medicines
from family (51.2%) and friends (18.2%). Those who borrowed or shared prescription
drugs believed they were at a lesser risk of side effects from taking other people's
medicines (p<.0005 χ2 test).
Conclusion: Sharing and borrowing prescription drugs appears to be a common practice
among Irish college students who may underestimate the risks associated with taking