News Release

Higher the health literacy, the more appropriate the use of over-the-counter drugs

Peer-Reviewed Publication

University of Tsukuba

Tsukuba, Japan—Self-medication refers to the use of over-the-counter (OTC) medication and other means of dealing with individual health problems. Self-medication is promoted as a policy measure for reducing unnecessary visits to medical facilities for minor symptoms and curtailing medical costs. However, OTC drugs are also associated with various risks, such as adverse events due to misuse or abuse of such drugs and incompatibility with prescription drugs. Health literacy (an indicator measuring health knowledge) refers to an ability that contributes to the appropriate use of medicine. However, few studies have assessed the relationship between health literacy and comprehension of OTC drug package inserts.

Therefore, the researchers conducted a questionnaire survey targeting adults who purchase OTC drugs at pharmacies to evaluate their understanding of package inserts and their coping behaviors in case of adverse reactions to the drugs. The relationship of these two variables with health literacy was analyzed. The results showed that high health literacy among OTC drug consumers was associated with both a high level of comprehension of package inserts and appropriate behavior when dealing with adverse drug reactions.

The study showed that among adults who purchase OTC drugs, those with higher health literacy were more likely to understand package inserts and consult a healthcare provider when adverse drug reactions occur. This indicates the important role of pharmacists and registered sellers in distributing appropriate information and raising health literacy to ensure proper self-medication.

This work was supported by an FY 2019 grant from the OTC Self-medication Promotion Foundation, Japan (grant no. 31-3A-005).


Original Paper

Title of original paper:
Association between health literacy and medication comprehension; attitudes toward reporting adverse events in adults using over-the-counter medicines

Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice



Assistant Professor MASUMOTO, Shoichi
Institute of Medicine, University of Tsukuba

Related Link

Institute of Medicine

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.