Self-medication of upper gastrointestinal symptoms with hydrotalcite: a noninterventional community pharmacy study on drug usage and patient satisfaction

Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Feb;50(2):87-99. doi: 10.5414/cp201576.


Objective: Acid-related gastrointestinal symptoms are widely prevalent. These complaints are often self-medicated with antacids. For the community pharmacy setting little is known about how patients' perceptions of self-treating symptoms are met, e.g., via patient satisfaction. Such outcomes are difficult to determine in clinical trials, therefore, non-interventional studies (NIS) are one applicable method for gaining data under real-world conditions. This study was conducted to investigate: (1) characteristics of gastrointestinal symptoms and patients' global health status, (2) drug usage and symptom relief, and (3) patient satisfaction with the medication.

Methods: This prospective, cross-sectional NIS was performed in cooperation with 137 community pharmacies in Germany. Participants were recruited from customers, after they had purchased the antacid, and were asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire. Patient satisfaction with hydrotalcite was assessed by the Treatment Satisfaction Questionnaire for Medication (TSQM) on the scales effectiveness, side effects, convenience, and global satisfaction.

Results: 548 patients answered the questionnaire. The following symptoms were reported most frequently: heartburn (65%) and acid regurgitation (37%). In comparison to the general population, more participants rated their global health in lower categories, e.g., satisfying (35% vs. 23%) or poor (12% vs. 5%). Drug usage patterns were found to be in accordance with the principles of self-medication. The majority of patients reported a noticeable symptom relief within 15 min after drug intake. TSQM mean scores were high in all four scales; an excellent score was achieved in the scale side effects. Study results also revealed that the self-perceived global health status of the patients had an impact on their global satisfaction with the medication.

Conclusions: This NIS shows that patients (1) are often affected in their global health when suffering from acid-related symptoms, (2) observed a fast symptom relief after drug intake, and (3) are highly satisfied with the antacid hydrotalcite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / administration & dosage
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / therapeutic use*
  • Antacids / administration & dosage
  • Antacids / therapeutic use*
  • Community Pharmacy Services
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Magnesium Hydroxide / administration & dosage
  • Magnesium Hydroxide / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Medication*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antacids
  • hydrotalcite
  • Aluminum Hydroxide
  • Magnesium Hydroxide