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J Prim Health Care. 2012 Dec 1;4(4):288-93.

Drug safety awareness in New Zealand: public knowledge and preferred sources for information.

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  • 1Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.



To make informed choices about medical treatment options, patients and consumers need knowledge about the benefits and the risks of drugs. Little is known about levels of drug safety knowledge or preferred sources of drug safety information in general population samples.


To explore drug safety knowledge, experience of adverse drug reactions (ADRs), and preferred sources for drug safety information in the New Zealand public.


We undertook a telephone survey of a random sample of adults (N=87) in the Dunedin area of New Zealand.


Although 47% of those currently or recently using prescription or over-the-counter drugs (N=83) were unable to recall any safety information at all about the medicine they were taking, 84% felt confident they could use these medicines in a safe way. The experience of at least one ADR during the last five years was reported by 40%. The five most preferred sources for drug safety information among all participants were: doctor (92%), pharmacist (76%), information on/inside the medicine package (66%), nurse (57%), and the internet (41%).


Our results add to findings from specific patient groups to show that there is a low level of drug safety knowledge in the general population. Primary health care practitioners have a recognised and vital part to play in promoting drug safety awareness.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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