The contribution of health geography in understanding self-medication

Le 9 juillet 2015,  à l’occasion du International Medical Geography Symposium (IMGS), Sébastien Fleuret, directeur de recherche CNRS au laboratoire ESO (UMR 6590) et Anne-Cécile Hoyez, chargée de recherche CNRS également au laboratoire ESO (UMR 6590), ont présenté une communication qui fait suite à leur travaux notamment au sein du programme de recherche ANR-Automed : « The contribution of health geography in understanding self-medication ».

Abstract : This paper strems from an ongoing multidisciplinary research aiming at understanding the ongoing changes in France regarding self-medication. The paper will specifically focus on the socio-spatial dimensions of such practices. Self-medication is historically low in France for 3 main reasons: (i) France has a strong social protection system and a facilitated access to care; (ii) health authorities guarantee both the repayment and the prices of a list of reimbursed drugs; (iii) when prescribed by a GP, optional medical prescriptions can be reimbursed. In France, recent evolutions aiming at reducing health expenditures have conducted the government to invite patients to endorse the responsibility for their health and manage themselves their minor illnesses through self-medication. This came out with the possibility of accessing drugs in pharmacies without a medical prescription. These evolutions are made under the argument that the patient’s autonomy must be encouraged. But like Fainzang (2012) writes, patients can practice self-medication by default and in that case, it can reinforce social inequalities: the most defavorised people can be forced to renounce to medicines because it is not reimbursed. The aim of this communication, over the examination of the specificities of the French example at local and national scales, is to suggest that the issue of self-medication is a relevant and rich issue for health geography. Based on both a quantitative and qualitative methodology, this research suggests that there are social and spatial dimensions that can inform about social inequalities in health and healthcare access through the lens of self-medication.


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