Patient receipt and understanding of written information provided with isotretinoin and estrogen prescriptions

Nancy M. Allen LaPointe, Paul Pappas, Patricia Deverka, Kevin J. Anstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Medication guides (MG) and mandatory patient package inserts (MPPI) are required with some prescription medications. OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine how many patients receive, read, and understand these mandated materials. DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 3,620 patients were identified as filling prescriptions for isotretinoin or selected estrogen products from February 2004 to January 2005. Patients were surveyed to gauge receipt and understanding of the MG for isotretinoin and the MPPI for estrogen. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: A total of 500 patients completed the survey, with 186 (93%) of the 200 isotretinoin patients and 258 (86%) of the 300 estrogen patients reporting receipt of the MG/MPPI with their most recent prescription. The majority of respondents reported confidence in their knowledge of their medication (86% for isotretinoin and 75% for estrogen). However, the mean score on 5 questions assessing recognition of medication risks was only slightly better than the score expected from guessing (3.1 vs 2.5, P < .01 for both isotretinoin and estrogen). CONCLUSIONS: Despite receiving the information and reporting confidence in medication knowledge, patients' understanding of major risks with these medications was poor. This finding highlights the need to develop better risk communication strategies to improve the safe and effective use of prescription medications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-101
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug information
  • Medication guide
  • Package insert
  • Patient education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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