Parental Patterns of Use of Over the Counter Analgesics in Children - Irish Medical Journal - May 2013
Irish Medical Organisation

Parental Patterns of Use of Over the Counter Analgesics in Children - Irish Medical Journal - May 2013

Over-The-Counter Analgesics (OTCA) account for over a fifth of Irish pharmacy sales but little is known about patterns of use, specifically in children. A study in the latest edition of the Irish Medical Journal investigated parents’ use of OTCAs in children and identified that despite the fact that over 90% of OTCAs are purchased from pharmacies, only a quarter of parents/guardians regularly consulted a pharmacist prior to administration of OTCA. In addition, 14% do not routinely consult the label of the product prior to administration.

The research carried out by Garvey et al sought to investigate parent’s patterns of use for OCTAs in Ireland and determine whether use was appropriate and inappropriate.

Inappropriate use was defined as use of an analgesic that potentially did not optimise symptom control (e.g. oral medicines if a child is vomiting, and vice versa using suppositories if a child has diarrhoea) or use of analgesics not indicated (e.g. if a child is misbehaving, to induce sleep or to calm a child on long car journeys).

The results of the study showed that two thirds of respondents were using analgesics inappropriately, as determined by the clinical scenarios. 54% indicated that they would use the incorrect analgesic for a particular symptom. Many respondents (66.1%) were using analgesics when not required or using an inappropriate analgesic for a child’s symptom.
The research also revealed that patients with private health insurance were more likely to have appropriate patterns of use (40%) compared to Medical Card/Doctor-Only Card holders (22.5%).

Despite the fact that over 90% of OTCAs are purchased from pharmacies, only a quarter of parents/guardians regularly consulted a pharmacist prior to administration of OTCA. In addition, 14% do not routinely consult the label of the product prior to administration. The results showed that 24% consulted a pharmacist, 19% a doctor, 7% a nurse, 86% always consulted the label prior to giving OTCAs.

The authors conclude that “Parents need more information and guidance on the use of OCTAs”. Restricting OTCA availability to pharmacies, accompanied by a discussion with a pharmacist prior to sale, similar to measures implemented by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) to increase awareness and reduce consumption of codeine containing products, could potentially result in improved use of OTCA amongst the Irish population

Incorrect OTCA use is prevalent in the Irish paediatric population. The authors recommend “that all sellers of OTCAs should be aware of their responsibilities and use the point of sale to provide and reinforce correct information to parents. Finally, all healthcare providers should enquire about OTCA use at routine healthcare visits allowing for opportunistic parental education.”

All references and author names are contained in the full article in this month’s IMJ, p. 139
Title: Parental Patterns of Use of Over the Counter Analgesics in Children

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