The effect of description of curative effects (e.g.: What is XXX and what is it used for?) in package information leaflets (PILs) upon patient's choice was examined. Sections describing the curative effects from PILs of 15 frequently used, freely accessible (OTC) NSAID drugs were extracted and were evaluated in a paper-and-pencil study by 200 university students (38% male; mean age = 19.76, SD = 1.495). Two independent aspects were considered: a) how understandable the given description is, and b) how attractive the drug seems to be based on the description (what would be the chance of choosing it when needed). Using mixed model ANOVA-s, significant differences among the ratings of leaflets both in terms of understandability and attractivity, but no gender main effects and leaflet x gender interactions were found. According to the results of content analysis, the length of the descriptions and the number of effects enumerated were the main sources of the differences. The understandability and attractivity ratings correlated very strongly (r = 0,938, p lower than 0,01). Understandability and content of practical information were the most important factors of choice. The most attractive descriptions were longer than average and listed more effects and symptoms for which the curative can be used. Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) can make benefits (placebo-effect: providing information) and harms (nocebo-effect: descripting side-effects) either. As part of a new approach called intelligent medicine designing, in addition to the side-effects, description of the curative effects as well as positive suggestions should be given to enhance beneficial outcomes and to promote safe and effective use of medicines.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.