BACKGROUND: Patients are exposed to a broad range of drug information (DI) sources; among them is the Internet, which has been increasingly used over the years, especially by adolescents. OBJECTIVE: To identify patients' needs and common sources of DI; examine the differences in use of DI sources among groups, by age and sex; and better understand patients' use of the Internet as a source of DI. METHODS: A quota sample of 201 outpatients from National University Hospital in Singapore was surveyed. A questionnaire was developed to examine patients' needs for and common sources of DI as well as their experience with and attitudes toward using the Internet as a DI source. RESULTS: Physicians (83.1%) and pharmacists (57.7%) were reported to be the most commonly used sources of DI regarding prescription drugs (n = 201), whereas pharmacists (40.9%) and relatives or friends (40.9%) were the most commonly reported sources for information about nonprescription drugs (n = 149). Respondents most commonly sought DI about adverse effects (72.6%), dosing (54.7%), and indications (54.2%). Among Internet users, people aged 31-50 years were more likely than those in other age groups to search the Internet for DI (p <0.001). The Internet was considered to be a convenient source with a broad range of information; however, patients faced both the inability to find needed information and uncertainty about information reliability when searching for DI on the Internet. CONCLUSIONS: Pharmacists play an important role in counseling patients about prescription and nonprescription drugs. There is a need to educate patients on how to locate and evaluate DI on the Internet.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)