Woman looking shocked at patient information leaflet

Where do patients find trustworthy and reliable information when they have a suspected adverse drug reaction? A just published paper, by my colleagues and I, gives some insight:

Seeking information when experiencing a symptom which could be a side effect from a medicine is a common strategy, potentially predicted using the SECope instrument, but not the MBSS. Doctors, regarded as trustworthy sources of information, are frequently used when such effects occur. However, their limited accessibility could contribute to high use of the internet as an alternative or additional information source. PILs were not considered as trustworthy by many people using regular medicines, but were nonetheless used frequently due to easy accessibility. Further work is needed to identify how these documents, ubiquitous in many countries, can be improved to increase trustworthiness. Reasons for not seeking information from pharmacists, despite their accessibility and trustworthiness, also need investigation.

One of the side issues in the paper is the confidence patients had that their suspected adverse drug reaction was caused by the medicine. Over 90% of patients were confident about the association, enabling them to take action, such as contacting their GP. The consequences of the adverse drug reactions included admission to hospital (8.8%) and serious enough to affect their daily activities.

This is yet another reminder of the harm medicines inherently hold, the importance of listening to patients, and the crucial role that providing accessible trustworthy information they can use to make decisions has.

O’Donovan B, Rodgers R, Cox A, Krska J. Use of information sources regarding medicine side effects among the general population: A cross-sectional survey. Primary Health Care Research & Development 2019; 20: E153. doi:10.1017/S1463423619000574