Loughborough University
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The use of over-the-counter medicine and health information seeking behaviour in England

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posted on 2017-05-18, 11:57 authored by Erica Prinsloo
Background. In England and the UK there has been a move to provide the consumer with more choice in over the counter medicine. In recognition of the number of drugs now available without prescription, new models and frameworks are being utilised with the aim to educate the public about self-treatment. How health information is sought has also undergone transformation with the advent of the internet, the adoption and utilisation of this resource has had a significant impact on how the healthcare consumer seeks information. Aims and Methods. The aim of this study was to investigate the provision of and access to consumer health information in England, specifically with reference to over the counter medicines to promote understanding of the consumers attitudes and opinions to this type of medicine and their health information seeking behaviours. The findings of the study were used to provide recommendations to the stakeholders involved; healthcare organisations, healthcare professionals and the healthcare consumer. The research consisted of a survey (n=324) and was analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods. Results. The majority of respondents utilised over the counter medicine responsibly and with few adverse events. The General Practitioner is the main source of information and online sources the next most utilised resource. Effectiveness and following advice/recommendations were amongst the themes identified that made a treatment episode with over the counter medicines successful. Unsuccessful treatment episodes included those with escalation of symptoms. Factors governing successful health information seeking were problem solving through self diagnosis and expanding knowledge on an existing health issue. Conclusions. Over the counter medicines are a widely used commodity but respondents continue to have a heavy reliance on the general practitioner for prescription medicines, especially for minor ailments. Evidence exists that individuals utilise information seeking behaviour for self treatment and the use of over the counter medicines. However, adoption of self care models need to be increased through educating health care consumers to maximise the potential benefits of these frameworks for the stakeholders.


Loughborough University.



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© Erica Prinsloo

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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