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Curr Pharm Des. 2019;25(5):469-482. doi: 10.2174/1381612825666190321110420.

Women's Beliefs About Medicines and Adherence to Pharmacotherapy in Pregnancy: Opportunities for Community Pharmacists.

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Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
PharmacoEpidemiology and Drug Safety Research Group, School of Pharmacy, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia.
School of Pharmacy, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR47PQ, United Kingdom.



During pregnancy, women might weigh the benefits of treatment against potential risks to the unborn child. However, non-adherence to necessary treatment can adversely affect both mother and child. To optimize pregnant women's beliefs and medication adherence, community pharmacists are ideally positioned to play an important role in primary care.


This narrative review aimed to summarize the evidence on 1) pregnant women's beliefs, 2) medication adherence in pregnancy and 3) community pharmacists' counselling during pregnancy.


Three search strategies were used in Medline and Embase to find original studies evaluating women's beliefs, medication adherence and community pharmacists' counselling during pregnancy. All original descriptive and analytic epidemiological studies performed in Europe, North America and Australia, written in English and published from 2000 onwards were included.


We included 14 studies reporting on women's beliefs, 11 studies on medication adherence and 9 on community pharmacists' counselling during pregnancy. Women are more reluctant to use medicines during pregnancy and tend to overestimate the teratogenic risk of medicines. The risk perception varies with the type of medicine, level of health literacy, education level and occupation. Furthermore, low medication adherence during pregnancy is common. Finally, limited evidence showed that the current community pharmacists' counselling is insufficient. Barriers hindering pharmacists are insufficient knowledge and limited access to reliable information.


Concerns about medication use and non-adherence are widespread among pregnant women. Community pharmacists' counselling during pregnancy is insufficient. Further education, training and research are required to support community pharmacists in fulfilling all the opportunities they have when counselling pregnant women.


Pregnancy; beliefs about medicines; community pharmacist; counselling; medication adherence; medicines; risk perception.

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