Home > Over-the-counter medicines – survey results.

Coleman, Lorraine (2008) Over-the-counter medicines – survey results. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 25, Spring 2008, p. 27.

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Landsdowne Market Research recently carried out a survey on behalf of Eireann Healthcare on public attitudes towards and knowledge about over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.1Five questions on the subject were put to a sample of 908 people:

1. Which, if any, of these complaints do you think aspirin helps: headache; toothache; stomach pain; heart disease; or other?
2. What is the youngest age at which it is advisable to give a child aspirin?
3. Should paracetamol tablets be taken during pregnancy?
4. Which of the following can only be treated by prescription medicine: eczema; ulcers; stomach complaints; period pain; thrush; migraine or diarrhoea?
5. If the medicine you needed for a minor illness was available without visiting a GP, would you be confident to take that option?

Results were categorised according to age, gender, marital status, social class and region. Key findings from the survey showed that:
• More than one in four people (26%) think aspirin helps stomach pain. Aspirin may in fact be potentially dangerous for people with stomach pain as it may be a symptom of ulcers, and aspirin can cause ulcers to perforate.
• Less than one-third of people surveyed know that OTC medication is available for thrush and would visit a GP for prescription medication rather than self-medicate.
• Almost half of respondents (45%) were unaware that OTC medication was available for eczema and would visit a GP for prescription medication.
• Almost half of respondents (48%) would give aspirin to children under 16.
• Only 34% of female respondents knew about the dangers of taking paracetamol during pregnancy.
• Eighty five per cent of people surveyed would be confident to receive OTC treatment for a minor illness from a pharmacist rather than a GP if the option was available.
1. Nalini Nathan of First Medical Communications provided an outline of the survey results for this article. www.firstmedical.ie
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Prescription/Over the counter
Issue Title
Issue 25, Spring 2008
Page Range
p. 27
Health Research Board
Issue 25, Spring 2008
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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