Consumer use of the internet for medicines information

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, 2004, 12 (4), pp. 185 - 190
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Objective: To explore consumer opinion of the internet as a source of medicines information, the reasons consumers use this information, and the impact of this information on their use of medicines. Method: Focus groups (n = 6) were conducted in metropolitan Sydney, Australia during March to May 2003 with consumers (n = 46) who had used the internet for medicines information. Key findings: Although participants expressed some concerns about the quality of internet-based medicines information (IBMI), the convenience of access to this information outweighed these reservations. Attitudes were thus positive overall. Participants used IBMI when preparing for doctors' visits, for second opinions and additional information, for information on current issues, when deciding whether to use a medicine, for comparative information on brands and generics, and when written information was not supplied by health professionals. Most participants felt empowered by the information they found and used it to play a more active role in decision making about their therapy. Conclusion: This study describes various issues associated with consumer use of IBMI and highlights the possible role of pharmacists to support their patients' efforts to access and interpret medicines information.
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