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Abstract

Objective To identify the sources of medicine information used by Finnish analgesic users. Method A questionnaire on health behaviour was sent to a random sample (n = 5000) of 15–64-year-old Finnish adults in 2005. The respondents were asked to list the sources of medicine information (both self-medication and prescription medicines) used by them. Only those respondents who had used only analgesics during the week prior to the study were included.

Key findings The response rate was 66%, and 15% of those (n = 502) had used only analgesics during the previous week. Doctors (35%), patient information leaflets (PILs) (33%), and pharmacists (33%) were the most common sources of medicine information. Other sources were nurses (9%), relatives and friends (7%), advertisements (4%), internet (4%), radio and TV (3%), newspapers and books (3%) and health food stores (1%). Almost half of the respondents (49%) had not received medicine information from health professionals. Women reported PILs, pharmacists, newspapers and books as sources of medicine information more often than men. The differences were statistically significant.

Conclusions Analgesic-only users seem not to receive much medicine information from health professionals, which may be a risk especially with self-medication. Women seem to have more sources of medicine information than men.