Pharmacy students' use and views on over-the-counter (OTC) medicines; a questionnaire study

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The role of the pharmacist centers on ensuring the safe and effective use of medicines, including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. It is important to ascertain pharmacy students’ use and opinions on OTC medicines, given that they are the pharmacists of the future and that this market continues to expand. This study aimed to investigate Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) final year pharmacy students’ use and views on OTC medicines. Scarce work has been conducted in this area to date.

Following ethical approval and a pilot study, all students (n=155) were invited to participate in a self-completed questionnaire (n=20 questions), distributed at a mandatory class. Descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests (Chi-squared and Mann Whitney U-test) were used for data analyses.

The response rate was 99.4% (154/155). The majority (153/155) reported using OTC medicines; the key consideration during personal product selection was effectiveness. Most [96.1% (147/153)] were in agreement that safety was the over-riding concern during OTC consultations. While 96.1% (149/155) considered that using an evidence-based approach improved the quality of patient care, 68.0% (104/153) would be prepared to sell a product that lacks evidence of effectiveness, provided it would not cause harm.

The importance of evidence of effectiveness was acknowledged, yet many students in this study were prepared to recommend unproven products. Further strategies are required at QUB to ensure this routine consideration alongside safety in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-298
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number3
Early online date22 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


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