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Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2003 Jan-Feb;12(1):1-8.

Enhancement of medication recall using medication pictures and lists in telephone interviews.

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  • 1Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 717 Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021, USA.



To determine the effect of reading medication lists and providing medication pictures on recall of non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NANSAIDs) during telephone interviews in a case-control study.


After a series of indication-specific questions, a list of all available NANSAIDs was read to study participants and a series of pictures was reviewed when available. Recall was defined as enhanced if a participant recalled NANSAID use only after the memory aids.


Among the 1484 participants who reported NANSAID use, 94 (6.3%) recalled their NANSAID use only after the memory aids. Several groups demonstrated enhanced recall following the memory aids: men (odds ratio (OR): 1.73; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11, 2.69), users of non-prescription versus prescription NANSAIDs (OR 2.28; 95% CI: 1.21, 4.30), those using > 2 other medications (OR 1.69; 95% CI: 1.06, 2.69), those who did not have all of their medication containers available during the interview (OR 1.58; 95% CI: 1.03, 2.42) and cases versus controls (OR 1.90; 95% CI: 1.11, 3.28).


The reading of medication names with the availability of medication photographs enhanced recall by approximately 6%. The use of this type of memory aid may reduce recall bias in case-control studies that rely on medication recall, depending on the overall prevalence of medication use and the effect size of the drug on the outcome.

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