A nationwide telephone survey of 1,223 individuals investigated the nature and source of information provided to patients regarding prescription drugs. About half of the respondents said that they had received information from their doctor about the purpose and directions for use for their most recent prescription. Only a few people (11 per cent) said that they had been informed about the drug's side effects and 19 per cent said that they had been told nothing by their doctor. Most (72 per cent) related that nothing had been said to them at the pharmacy. Written information (stickers on the medicine container, leaflets or brochures) were said to be infrequently provided at the pharmacy. About 12 per cent of the respondents said they had expected they might get a drug side effect, but only 9 per cent said that they had experienced one. The most frequently cited action in response to side effects was to consult the physician (40 per cent); however, a sizeable percentage of people stopped the medicine completely or temporarily (36 per cent) or kept on taking the drug as prescribed (32 per cent).