Background: Beliefs about medication may impact a woman's decision to take a needed medication during pregnancy. While many women will be faced with decisions regarding medication use during pregnancy, there is a paucity of research on this topic in the literature.
Objective: To study pregnant women's beliefs about medication and factors that determine those beliefs.
Methods: A questionnaire was posted at the University of Oslo's Web site for Internet surveys for 5 weeks from mid-September 2008 through October 2008. Seven general statements from the "Beliefs about Medicines" questionnaire and 9 pregnancy-specific statements were used to assess pregnant women's attitudes toward medication use during pregnancy. Other information, such as sociodemographic background and personal medication use during pregnancy, was also collected.
Results: A total of 866 pregnant women completed the questionnaire. Most women had a positive attitude toward medication in general, but believed pregnant women should be more restrictive regarding use than nonpregnant women. There was a significant association between women's education, occupation, and attitudes, with less educated women believing that medications in general were harmful and herbal remedies were safe, while women with a higher education were more reluctant to use any medication in pregnancy. Women with health-related occupations were more knowledgeable about the possible risks of untreated illness during pregnancy. There was also an association between pregnant women's attitudes and their use of prescribed penicillins and herbal remedies.
Conclusions: Most pregnant women believe that medicines in general are helpful and safe to use. However, they are much more restrictive and unsure about use during pregnancy. Health-care professionals should be aware of such attitudes when advising a woman to take a needed medication during pregnancy.