Aim: This study explored consumer knowledge gaps and concerns regarding medication use in children.
Methods: Calls concerning or made by people under 18 to the pharmacist-operated, national consumer medicines call centre National Prescribing Service Medicines Line (2002 to June 2010) were analysed. Calls were classified and narratively explored by age group: <1, 1–4, 5–14 and 15–17 years. Consumer Medication Information (CMI) and evidence-based resources were examined to determine information concordance for common questions.
Results: There were 14 753 paediatric-related calls (mean age 4.1 years). Callers were predominantly female (91.5%), mean age was 35.8 years. Most (89.4%) phoned for a child and 2.2% for themselves. Main enquiry types were: lactation (22.1%), treatment/prophylaxis (11.1%), dose (10.2%), adverse reaction (10.0%), interaction (8.4%) and vaccination (8.4%). However, the primary enquiry differed by age group: lactation (<1 year), dosing (1–4, 5–14 years) and interactions (15–17 years). Global concerns were medication safety, with breastfeeding for infants <1 year and age/weight dose clarification for children 1–4 and 5–14 years. In contrast, interaction questions from adolescents concerned nervous system medicines, cold/flu products, contraceptives and recreational drugs. While paracetamol was the primary medication of interest across age groups, the remaining ‘top two’ differed significantly. Inconsistencies identified between CMI and evidence-based resources contribute to consumer uncertainty.
Conclusions: Care givers and older children use a call centre to address their information needs about frequently used and highly accessible medicines, and their concerns vary across paediatric age groups. Inconsistent information provided by CMI on medication use in children contributes to consumer uncertainty and help-seeking behaviour.