Background Previous research has examined the number and extent of medicines taking in pregnant women but not their beliefs and risk perception surrounding their use. Objective To describe beliefs and risk perception associated with medicines use for the treatment of common acute conditions among UK women and explore whether this is related to actual medicines use. Settings Cross-sectional, web-based study in the UK. Methods Pregnant women and mothers within 1 year of giving birth were invited to participate in an online cross-sectional questionnaire-based study via a pregnancy website in the UK. Anonymous data were collected from women regarding their use of medicines (both over-the-counter and prescribed) and their beliefs regarding medicines use during pregnancy. Main outcome measures Pregnant women's beliefs about medicines and their relation to pharmacological treatment of acute conditions in pregnancy. Results Pharmacological treatment of conditions in pregnancy ranged from 65.4 % for urinary tract infections (UTIs) to 1.1 % for sleeping problems. Almost three out of ten women avoided using some medications during pregnancy. For heartburn and UTIs, women who did not treat the condition viewed medicines in general as being overused, more harmful and less beneficial, than those who treated the condition. In general, UK pregnant women perceived medicines to be beneficial and slightly overused. Conclusions Women's beliefs about medications impact on treatment of specific conditions in pregnancy such as heartburn and UTIs. Healthcare professionals should explore patient's beliefs regarding medication at the first maternity care visit to promote appropriate medication use in pregnancy.
Keywords: Beliefs about medicines; Medicines; Pregnancy; Risk perception; United Kingdom.