Background: Customers are commonly seeking information, e.g. via the internet, to achieve information on health, diseases, and treatment options. However, little is known about customers' information seeking behavior prior to community pharmacy visits.
Objective: To quantify and describe customers' information seeking behavior prior to community pharmacy visits, and to describe how pharmacy staff utilize information obtained by customers.
Methods: Six Danish community pharmacies collected data on customers' information seeking behavior through an online survey for five days in a three week-period in November 2018. Customers were asked about their information seeking behavior regarding their errand at the pharmacy that specific day, what kind of information they had sought, which sources they had used, and their motivation for seeking that information. Hereafter, the pharmacy staff recorded whether they confirmed or disconfirmed the information, and whether they used the information in their counselling. The results were reported using descriptive statistics.
Results: A total of 3424 customers were invited to participate in the study. Among 2623 customers agreeing to participate, 14.4% (n = 377) had obtained information prior to the pharmacy visit. Information seeking was more frequent among younger customers (<40 years: 22%; 40-60 years: 17%; ≥60 years: 10%). Further, women sought information more often (17%) than men (11%). Customers sought information to gain knowledge about self-management (42%), the purchased product (35%), and how others might help (29%). Information was mainly obtained from official sources of health and drug information (44%), Google (41%), and non-pharmacy health care professionals (28%). The information presented by the customer was generally confirmed or integrated into the pharmacy counselling (70%) and only rarely disconfirmed by pharmacy staff (5%).
Conclusion: A total of 14.4% of customers had sought information prior to visiting the community pharmacy. The majority of customers had used reliable sources, and the information was used during pharmacy counselling.
Keywords: Health information; Information seeking; Information sources.
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