Expert and consumer evaluation of patient medication leaflets provided in U.S. pharmacies

J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). Jul-Aug 2005;45(4):443-51. doi: 10.1331/1544345054475586.


Objective: Evaluate the distribution and quality of patient medication leaflets provided in U.S. pharmacies.

Design: Observational.

Setting: United States.

Participants: 384 randomly selected community pharmacies in 44 states.

Interventions: Professional shoppers (acting as patients) presented four new prescriptions to study pharmacies.

Main outcome measures: Medication leaflets obtained by shoppers were evaluated by expert and consumer raters using criteria specified in federal law mandating distribution of useful written information to 95% of individuals receiving new prescriptions by 2006.

Results: Leaflets were provided by pharmacies with 89% of 1,536 prescriptions presented by professional shoppers posing as patients. Leaflet quality varied: 95% of leaflets received high ratings on accuracy, but only 19% received high ratings on the specificity of directions. Fewer than 10% of all leaflets met quality criteria regarding contraindications, precautions, and how to avoid harm. One fourth of all leaflets had poor print size, according to the shoppers.

Conclusion: Additional efforts are needed to meet federally mandated information distribution and quality goals by 2006.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Atenolol / therapeutic use
  • Community Participation / methods*
  • Community Pharmacy Services / standards*
  • Community Pharmacy Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Community Pharmacy Services / trends
  • Consumer Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Utilization / classification
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods
  • Pamphlets*
  • Professional Competence / standards*
  • Program Evaluation / methods
  • Program Evaluation / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Atenolol