Introduction All patients, including children and young people (CYP), should be aware of the purpose of their medicines to drive compliance to their medication regime. CYP and their parents/ carers should have access to quality age-appropriate information.
Aims To determine the frequency that (CYP) ask for information about medication. To determine the web-sources used and analyse the age-appropriateness of information available.
Methods Questionnaires were used to determine what information CYP (3–16 years) and parents are likely to seek out on medicines used for children. The questions explored how frequently CYP asked for information, search terms used to find information and the most used websites. Questionnaires were distributed at an educational activity at a local science museum. As well as asking parents which websites they have accessed, search terms suggested as used by CYP and parents for an exemplar medicine (paracetamol) were inputted into a Google search to identify relevant web pages; only text based, free to access, non sales sites on the first page were included for analysis. Readability scores were evaluated using the Flesch-Kincaid reading ease score.
Results Parents (n=40) reported that CYP frequently ask questions about medicines; 60% ask general questions, a further 32.5% only when taking medicines and 7.5% never ask questions. Of the CYP (n=40) younger children typically ask their parents for information about medicines; but the older age group (12–15 years) use the internet more often than asking parents. 55% parents reported using the internet to search for information about medicines for their children. The most commonly looked at web sources were NHS direct and NHS choices (55.2%) followed by WebMD (20.7%), parent forums (6.9%) and Netdoctor (3.4%). 60% parents reported there is not enough information about children’s medicines available. Websites identified from the search terms had a readability range of 7–16 years with only one site being suitable for <10 years of age (www.medicines.org).
Conclusions The internet is widely used to find out information about medicines by CYP and parents/carers. There is a clear need for age-appropriate information about medicines to be readily accessible, particularly for children under 10 years of age, and for medicines commonly used in this population.