Use of information sources regarding medicine side effects among the general population: a cross-sectional survey

Bernadine O’Donovan, Ruth M Rodgers, Anthony Cox, Janet Krska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Aim: To determine the use and perceived value of different information sources that patients may use to support identification of medicine side effects; to explore associations between coping styles and use of information sources.

Background: Side effects from medicines can have considerable negative impact on peoples’ daily lives. As a result of an ageing UK population and attendant multi-morbidity, an increasing number of medicines are being prescribed for patients, leading to increased risk of unintended side effects.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of patients who use medicine, recruited from community pharmacies. The survey sought views on attributes of various information sources, their predicted and actual use, incorporating a shortened Side Effects Coping Questionnaire (SECope) scale and the abbreviated Miller Behavioural Style Scale (MBSS).

Findings: Of 935 questionnaires distributed, 230 (25.0%) were returned, 61.3% from females; 44.7% were retired and 84.6% used at least one medicine regularly. 69.6% had experienced a side effect, resulting in 57.5% of these stopping the medicine. Patient information leaflets (PILs) and GPs were both predicted and actually most widely used sources, despite GPs being judged as relatively less accessible and PILs less trustworthy, particularly by regular medicine users. Pharmacists, considered both easy to access and trustworthy, were used by few in practice, while the internet was considered easy to access, but less trustworthy and was also little used. SECope sub-scales for non-adherence and information seeking showed positive associations with stopping a medicine and seeking information from a health professional. More high monitors than low monitors stopped a medicine themselves, but there were no differences in use of information sources. Information seeking following a side effect is a common strategy, potentially predicted by the SECope, but not the MBSS. Limited GP accessibility could contribute to high internet use. Further research could determine how the trustworthiness of PILs can be improved.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere153
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalPrimary Health Care Research & Development
Early online date10 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2019


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