Self-care behavior when suffering from the common cold and health-related quality of life in individuals attending an annual checkup in Japan: a cross-sectional study
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Abstract Background The World Health Organization and several governments encourage medical self-care (including self-medication) for minor illnesses. Accordingly, the factors that influence self-care have received research attention, with socioeconomic status identified as one such predictor. Although studies have examined the relationship between socioeconomic status and quality of life (QOL) in patients suffering from respiratory allergies or chronic illnesses, the relationship between QOL and self-care behavior for the common cold, the most common illness seen in primary care, has not been examined. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between QOL and self-care behavior in individuals suffering from the common cold. Methods We distributed questionnaires to 499 people who attended an annual public health checkup in Kasama city, Japan. Valid questionnaires were received from 398 participants (mean age = 59.0, SD = 15.8, range = 24–87 years; 61.4 % women). The materials included a question relating to typical actions taken when treating a common cold (self-care or visiting a health clinic), demographics, and the Short Form-8™ (SF-8™)—an 8-item survey that assesses health-related quality of life (HRQOL). The association of care action and HRQOL were investigated using Mann–Whitney U tests with a significance level of p < 0.05. Results The mean scores for the Physical Functioning, Role-Physical, Bodily Pain, Social Functioning, Role-Emotional, and Physical Component Summary score of the SF-8™ were significantly higher among the self-care group than the group that preferred visiting a clinic. Conclusions HRQOL among individuals who engage in self-care when treating the common cold was observed to be significantly higher than among individuals who preferred to attend a health clinic. It is unclear whether self-care behavior affects QOL, or whether QOL affects self-care behavior; however, this finding highlights the importance of the relationship between QOL and self-care behavior. Additional studies should be conducted in order to investigate the direction of causality between self-care behaviors and QOL further.