Population awareness of risks related to medicinal product use in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR: A cross-sectional study for public health improvement in low and middle income countries
Caillet C., Sichanh C., Syhakhang L., Delpierre C., Manithip C., Mayxay M., Lapeyre-Mestre M., Newton PN., Roussin A.
© 2015 Caillet et al. Background: While essential medicines have been made more available in all but the most remote areas in low and middle income countries (L/MICs) over the past years, inappropriate and incorrect use of good quality medicines remains a key impediment for public health. In addition, as medicines have a potential to cause harm (medicine risks), adequate awareness by medicine users of the risks of adverse reactions is essential, especially as self-medication is common in L/MICs. This study aimed to investigate the awareness of Lao residents regarding medicine risks in Vientiane Capital, Lao People's Democratic Republic. Methods: Face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaires of 144 residents older than 16 years were carried out in 12 randomly selected villages out of the 146 villages of Vientiane Capital with at least one health facility. Results: The respondents were mainly (85.0 %) the heads of households or their husband/spouse. The majority of the respondents were unaware (61.8 %) of medicine risks. Compared to residents living in the urban district of Xaysetha, living in peri-urban and even more in rural areas were identified as factors associated with being unaware of medicine risks [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) =3.3, 95 % Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.1-9.4]) and aOR =7.5 (95 % CI = 2.3-24.2), respectively]. In addition, more than half of the respondents had never heard of poor quality medicines, with a higher rate in rural/peri-urban compared to urban districts (55.6 % vs 38.9 %, respectively, p = 0.02). Finally, approximately one third of all respondents thought that traditional medicines could not cause harm. Conclusions: Overall, these results suggest a lack of awareness about medicinal product risks. Differences according to the place of residence are apparent and could be partly explained by a lower level of training of healthcare providers in contact with the population in the rural districts in particular. Communication on medicinal product risks to patients through well-trained healthcare providers could probably make a valuable contribution towards the appropriate use of medicines in L/MICs.