Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

“Doc, tell me what I need to know”—a doctor's perspective

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 09 October 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:862
  1. James G Kennedy, general practitioner (
  1. 1 Cedar Brook Practice, 11 Kingshill Close, Middlesex UB4 8DD

    What information do patients need about medicines?Partnership between health professionals and patients depends, in part, on the provision and exchange of accurate and reliable information about drugs, but who should provide it? We invited contributors to answer the question from the perspectives of patients, clinicians, and the pharmaceutical industry

    The most common medical intervention is the prescribing of drugs. In Britain over 80% of the population receives at least one prescription over a five year period.1 Increased patient involvement in health care, a result of sociopolitical changes,2 improves health outcomes.3 Informed decision making by patients and doctors working in partnership towards concordance about treatment requires the ready availability of reliable and understandable information. What should be the sources and formats of this information?

    Currently, information on contraindications, side effects, interactions, and dose is provided on patient information inserts within drug packets required by licensing authorities. This is usually produced in minute typeface, is legalistic in wording, and is defensive in tone. Unsurprisingly, …

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