Prescription Drug Information: Do People Read and Retain It?


A recent study found that many patients do not read prescription drug information, leading to limited recall of risk information.

Researchers from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and Butler University in Indianapolis conducted a study to determine if people actually read prescription drug information. Noting that self-reporting measures are unreliable, they created a fictional prescription drug website for an allergy medication and used an eye-tracking device to determine how much of the information was actually viewed. The researchers also assessed recall of the information on the website.

Not surprisingly, although 80% of the 29 participants claimed to have read half or more of the risk information, eye-tracking measures revealed limited-to-no viewing of this information. Study participants had minimal unaided recall and modest aided recall of risks.

This study suggests that clinicians play an important role in conveying risk information and assessing the patient’s understanding of that information, rather than having patients rely on written drug information alone. The study findings are available here.

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