July 08, 2016
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PCPs should better explore pregnant patients' views on medication

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PCPs should ask patients who are pregnant about their beliefs regarding medication during the first maternity care visit, as women’s risk perception and views about drugs are important determining factors in whether they opt to treat certain conditions, according to data published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy.

“Analysis of international data indicated that women overestimate the risk of taking [over-the-counter] and prescribed medicines during pregnancy,” Michael J. Twigg, MPharm, PhD, of the University of East Anglia School of Pharmacy, in Norwich, U.K., and colleagues wrote. “The authors suggest this may have an impact on whether a woman wants to treat a particular condition during pregnancy. There is a lack of knowledge about the relationship between the woman’s risk perception and her actual medicines use during pregnancy in the U.K.”

To determine the beliefs and risk perception regarding medicines for the treatment of common acute conditions among U.K. women, and find whether this is related to medicine use, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional, web-based study of pregnant women and mothers within 1 year of giving birth.

Anonymous data were collected from 1,120 U.K. women through a questionnaire on a pregnancy website. Participants answered questions regarding their use of both OTC and prescription medicines, and their beliefs regarding medicine use during pregnancy.

According to the researchers, pharmacological treatment of conditions during pregnancy ranged from 65.4% for urinary tract infections (UTIs), to 1.1% for sleeping problems. Nearly three out of 10 women avoided using some medications during pregnancy. Among those with heartburn and UTIs, patients who did not treat their condition reported believing that medicines in general are overused, more harmful and less beneficial than those who opted for treatment. Participants in general viewed medicines to be beneficial and slightly overused.

“Beliefs and risk perception play an important role on medication taking patterns in pregnancy,” Twigg and colleagues wrote. “Pregnant women should be encouraged to discuss their concerns about medicines taking with health care professionals in order to ensure they receive timely and effective treatment. However, more work needs to be done to determine if health care professionals have the tools available to them to allay concerns, assess severity of conditions and provide appropriate treatment advice for pregnant women.” – by Jason Laday

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.