Self-medication for cough and the common cold: Information needs of consumers

Sanne Maartje Kloosterboer, Treasure McGuire, Laura Deckx, Geraldine Moses, Theo Verheij, Mieke van Driel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Despite the high use of over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines, little is known about Australia's cough and cold medicines information needs. The aim of this study was to identify gaps in consumers' perceived knowledge and concerns, to better target consumer medicines information and improve quality use of medicines. 

Methods: We analysed cough-and-cold related enquiries from consumers who contacted an Australian national medicine call centre between September 2002 and June 2010. 

Results: Of 5503 cough and cold calls, female callers made up 86% of the calls and 33% were related to children. Questions most frequently related to drug-drug interactions (29%). An analysis of narratives over an 18-month period (248 calls) revealed 20% of the calls concerned potentially clinically relevant interactions, particularly those involving psychotropic agents. 

Discussion: The potential for interactions with cough and cold medicines purchased OTC is recognised by consumers. Patient information should address their concerns. Doctors should be aware of the common cough and cold interactions and communicate likely clinical symptoms to patients when prescribing medication to prevent potential harm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-501
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Family Physician
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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