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Attitudes towards sales and use of over-the-counter drugs in Sweden in a reregulated pharmacy market: A population-based study

Journal article
Authors Tove Hedenrud
Karolina Andersson Sundell
Johan Martinsson
Helle Håkonsen
Published in International Journal of Pharmacy Practice
Volume 27
Issue 1
Pages 17-24
ISSN 0961-7671
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Department of Political Science
Pages 17-24
Language en
Keywords Attitudes, Over-the-counter drugs, Sweden
Subject categories Social and Clinical Pharmacy


© 2018 Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Objectives: To analyse attitudes towards sales and use of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the Swedish adult population. Methods: Data were collected through the web-based Citizen Panel comprising 21 000 Swedes. A stratified sample of 4058 participants was emailed a survey invitation. Questions concerned use of OTC drugs, and attitudes towards sales and use of OTC drugs. Correlations between the attitudinal statements were assessed using Spearman's rank correlation. Associations between attitudes and participant characteristics were analysed using multinomial logistic regression. Key findings: Participation rate was 64%. Altogether 87% reported use of OTC drugs in the last 6 months. Approximately 10% of participants stated that they used OTC drugs at the first sign of illness, and 9% stated that they used more OTC drugs compared with previously, due to increased availability. The statement on use of OTC drugs at first sign of illness correlated with the statement about using more OTC drugs with increased availability. Socio-demographic factors (age, sex and education) and frequent use of OTC drugs were associated with attitudes to sales and use of OTC drugs. Conclusions: Increased use due to greater availability, in combination with OTC drug use at first sign of illness illustrates the need for continuous education of the population about self-care with OTC drugs. Increased awareness of the incautious views on OTC drugs in part of the population is important. Swedish policy-makers may use such knowledge in their continuous evaluation of the 2009 pharmacy reform to review the impact of sales of OTC drugs in retail outlets on patient safety and public health. Pharmacy and healthcare staff could be more proactive in asking customers and patients about their use of OTC drugs and offering them advice.

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