Public risk perception of non-prescription medicines and information disclosure during consultations: a suitable target for intervention?

S Fielding, AJ Lee, P Slovic, M Johnston, CM Bond, MC Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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ObjectiveOptimisation of non-prescription medicine (NPM) supply from community pharmacies could reduce demand on other healthcare providers, including general practitioners and emergency department personnel. Outcomes can be maximised if patients disclose relevant information, for example concomitant medication, during pharmacy-based consultations. Strategies to promote information disclosure are needed. This study used the psychometric paradigm of risk to explore whether the public's risk perception of NPMs was associated with information disclosure.MethodsThis national, cross-sectional population study used a random sample of 3000 adults (aged ≥ 18 years) from the Scottish Electoral register. Postal questionnaires collected data on risk perceptions, information disclosure and demographic information. Exploratory factor analysis was used to determine constructs to which the risk questions could be grouped. Factors were scored and the scores compared across demographics.Key findingsJust over half (57%) of the 927 respondents perceived NPMs to be associated with low general risk. For 19 of the 23 statements (83%), respondents indicated general agreement, that is low-risk perception of NPMs. Individuals with higher risk perception of NPMs were less likely to disclose information during consultations compared with respondents with lower risk perception.ConclusionThere is general low public risk perception of NPMs. Individuals with higher risk perception are less likely to disclose information. Interventions that raise risk perception are unlikely to enhance the safe and effective supply of NPMs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-432
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
Issue number5
Early online date10 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • health knowledge
  • non-prescription drugs
  • risk assessment
  • self-care
  • self-medication

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