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Meeting the information needs of Users of Medicines: Encouraging citizens to ask questions

HIFA Quotation: 
Dear all,

I have found a very interesting campaign (from 2003 to 2009) that aimed at increasing people's involvement in decisions about their use of medicines, called Ask About Medicines. 

It seems that the website is not available anymore, but the resources and materials can be found at the Patient Information Forum:

"Ask about Medicines was a campaign which ran from 2003-2009. Its mission has been to achieve lasting change by working with partners to encourage better communication between people and their health professionals and change expectations so that asking questions about medicines becomes the norm.
Ask About Medicines closed in 2009, but after six years of activities and campaigns it had created a wealth of resources to focused on improving communication about medicines. These resources and materials were handed over to the Patient Information Forum and are available for you to use and adapt. You are welcome to download and adapt these materials.

Central to the campaign have been the Ask About Medicines Questions, questions that people might like to consider asking a health professional when they are given a medicine. They are:

WHAT does this medicine do?
WHY is it important that I take this medicine? Are there any other treatment options?
WHEN and how should I take it?
HOW long should I take it for?
WHAT should I be aware of when taking this medicine? (eg. possible risks, side effects, taking medicines with certain foods/drinks/activities, what to do if I don’t feel well while I am taking it, how to store it safely etc)
WHERE can I go for more information?"

This is a very important issue, because people should be encouraged to ask more information about the kind of medicines they are taking, about how to manage their consumption and to share their doubts with the prescribers. This can, in fact, prevent cases of "irrational use" or misuse/overuse/underuse, since individuals are more involved in the treatment choice process.
Date of HIFA message: 
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Knowledge cycle: 
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Author Name: 
Carla F. Rodrigues
Author profile: 
HIFA profile: Carla F. Rodrigues is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Sciences Research, University of Amsterdam (where she lives currently) and a researcher at the Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology, University Institute of Lisbon. Her main research interests are Sociology of Health, Education and Culture, specifically lay rationalities in health; therapeutic pluralism; and pharmaceuticals consumption. She has been conducting fieldwork in Portugal and Mozambique. She is a member of the HIFA 2013 Challenge Team: Addressing the information needs of prescribers and users of medicines. AT
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