Background: Many patients receive health care in different settings. Thus, a limitation of clinical care may be inaccurate medication lists, since data exchange between settings is often lacking and patients do not regularly self-report on changes in their medication. Health care professionals and patients are both interested in utilizing electronic health information. However, opinion is divided as to who should take responsibility for maintaining personal health records. In Sweden, the government has passed a law to enforce and fund a national register of dispensed medications. The register comprises all individuals with dispensed medications (6.4 million individuals, September 2006) and can be accessed by the individual online via "My dispensed medications". The individual has the right to restrict the accessibility of the information in health care settings.
Objective: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the users' attitudes towards their access to "My dispensed medications" as part of a new interactive Internet service on prescribed medications.
Method: A password-protected Web survey was conducted among a first group of users of "My dispensed medications". Data was anonymously collected and analyzed with regard to the usefulness and design of the Web site, the respondents' willingness to discuss their "My dispensed medications" with others, their reasons for access, and their source of information about the service.
Results: During the study period (January-March, 2007), all 7860 unique site visitors were invited to answer the survey. Invitations were accepted by 2663 individuals, and 1716 responded to the online survey yielding a view rate of 21.8% (1716/7860) and a completion rate of 64.4% (1716/2663). The completeness rate for each question was in the range of 94.9% (1629/1716) to 99.5% (1707/1716). In general, the respondents' expectations of the usefulness of "My dispensed medications" were high (total median grade 5; Inter Quartile Range [IQR] 3, on a scale 1-6). They were also positive about the design of the Web site (total median grade 5; IQR 1, on a scale 1-6). The high grades were not dependent on age or number of drugs. A majority of the respondents, 60.4% (1037/1716), had learned about "My dispensed medications" from pharmacies. 70.4% (1208/1716) of all respondents said they visited "My dispensed medications" to get control or an overview of their drugs. Getting control was a more common (P < .001) answer for the elderly (age 75 or above), whereas curiosity was more common (P < .001) for the younger age group (18-44 years).
Conclusion: We found that users of the provider-based personal medication record "My dispensed medications" appreciated the access to their record. Since we found that the respondents liked the design of the Web site and perceived that the information was easy to understand, the study provided no reason for system changes. However, a need for more information about the register, and to extend its use, was recognized.