Written and electronic medicine information are important for improving patient knowledge and safe use of medicines. Written medicine information in Thailand is mostly in the form of printed package inserts (PIs), designed for health professionals, with few medicines having patient information leaflets (PILs). The aim of this study was to determine practices, needs and expectations of Thai general public about written and electronic medicine information and attitudes towards PILs.
Cross-sectional survey, using self-completed questionnaires, was distributed directly to members of the general public in a large city, during January to March 2019. It explored experiences of using information, expectations, needs and attitudes, the latter measured using a 10-item scale. Differences between sub-groups were assessed, applying the Bonferroni correction to determine statistical significance.
Of the total 851 questionnaires distributed, 550 were returned (64.2%). The majority of respondents (88%) had received PIs, but only a quarter (26.2%) had received PILs. Most respondents (78.5%) had seen medicine information in online form. High educational level and income increased the likelihood of receiving PILs and electronic information. The majority of respondents (88.5%) perceived PILs as useful, but 70% considered they would still need information about medicines from health professionals. Indication, drug name and precautions were the most frequently read information in PIs and perceived as needed in PILs. Three-quarters of respondents would read electronic information if it were available, with more who had received a PIL having previously searched for such information compared to those who had not. All respondents had positive overall attitudes towards PILs.
Experiences of receiving PILs and electronic medicine information in Thailand are relatively limited. However, the general public considered PILs as a useful source of medicine information. Electronic medicine information was desired and should be developed to be an additional source of information for consumers.