Anneli Zirkela and Jaanus Harrob
a) Division of Health Promotion, Department of Public Health, University of Tartu b) MD, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Tartu
Abstract. Background. One problem in public health is the misuse of drugs. This study examines where exactly people obtain drug information. Also people's knowledge about the drugs, how many different drugs are stored in the medicine-chests of Estonian households, and how the drugs are used.
Methods. A self-compiled questionnaire was used in this cross-sectional study. The questionnaires were mailed in October 1997 to 1040 Estonian-speaking persons and a reminder letter was sent in November 1997. In total, 530 returned and completed questionnaires could be used for data analysis.
Results. Eight point eight percent of inhabitants had 1-5 different drugs at home, 27.7% of respondents had 6-10 different drugs and 20.3% of respondents had 10-15 different drugs. Eight point five percent of inhabitants had more than 20 different drugs at home. The drugs that were most frequently found in the medicine-chest were analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs for respiratory disorders and antibiotics. A significant proportion (26.6%) of the sample would use the once-prescribed drugs again without consulting with a doctor. Even though doctors and pharmacists were the main source of drug information, mass media and colleagues contributed significantly. The vast majority of the respondents expressed their wish to be better informed about various aspects of drug use.
Conclusion. People are very interested in several aspects of using medicines, in particular concerning a selection of drugs with similar effects; the action of the active substance of medicine, interactions with other medicines, possible side effects of drugs, and the effects of drugs on working ability and driving.
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