Pharmacist, general practitioner and consumer use of written medicine information in Australia: Are they on the same page?

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Abstract

Background:

Providing written medicine information to consumers enables them to make informed decisions about their medicines, playing an important role in educating and improving health literacy. In Australia, standardized written medicine information called Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) is available for medicines as package inserts, computer prints, or leaflets. Consumers want and read CMI, but may not always ask for it. General practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists are an important source of written medicine information, yet may not always provide CMI in their practice.

Objective:

To examine and compare the awareness, use and provision of CMI by consumers, pharmacists and general practitioners (GPs).

Methods:

Based on previous studies, structured questionnaires were developed and administered to a national sample of consumers (phone survey); community pharmacists and GPs (postal surveys) about utilization of CMI. Descriptive, comparative and logistic regression analyses were conducted.

Results:

The respondents comprised of 349 pharmacists, 181 GPs and 1000 consumers. Two-thirds of consumers, nearly all (99%) pharmacists and 90% of GPs were aware of CMI. About 88% of consumers reported receiving CMI as a package insert, however most pharmacists (99%) and GPs (56%) reported providing computer-generated CMI. GPs' and pharmacists' main reason for providing CMI was on patient request. Reasons for not providing were predominantly because consumers were already taking the medicine, concerns regarding difficulty understanding the information, or potential non-adherence. Of the 691 consumers reportedly reading CMI, 35% indicated concerns after reading. Factors associated with reading included gender, type of CMI received and frequency of provision.

Conclusion:

Consumers want and read information about their medicines, especially when received from their GP or pharmacist. Healthcare professionals report usually discussing CMI when providing it to patients, although continued improvements in dissemination rates are desirable. Regular use of CMI remains a challenge, and ongoing strategies to promote CMI use are necessary to improve uptake of CMI in Australia.

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