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Ann Pharmacother. 2009 Apr;43(4):732-9. doi: 10.1345/aph.1L580. Epub 2009 Mar 24.

Patient needs and sources of drug information in Singapore: is the Internet replacing former sources?

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  • 1Department of Pharmacy, National University of Singapore, Singapore.

Abstract

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.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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