Usefulness of the patient information leaflet (PIL) and information on medicines from professionals: A patients’ view. A qualitative study

  • Tonka Poplas-Susič Health Centre Ljubljana, Metelkova 9, 1000 Ljubljana Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Poljanski nasip 58, 1000 Ljubljana
  • Zalika Klemenc-Ketis Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Maribor, Slomskov trg 15, 2000 Maribor
  • Janko Kersnik Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Poljanski nasip 58, 1000 Ljubljana Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Maribor, Slomskov trg 15, 2000 Maribor
Keywords: PIL, focus groups, medicines, family practitioner


Background: The Patient information leaflet (PIL) is an important source of information for every patient. Little is known about whether patients read the PIL and whether it contains useful information. Other sources of drug-related information are professionals (a family practitioner, a pharmacist and a nurse). Informing patients on drugs improves their compliance.

The aim of the study was to identify the usefulness of PIL from the perspective of the patient, to assess professionals as a source of drug-related information and to suggest changes that can improve informing and therefore patients’ compliances.

Methods: Four focus group interviews were conducted across different primary health care centres in the North East of Slovenia. Focus groups were composed of randomly selected patients (in total 20) who were willing to express their views on PILs, on other drug information sources and on possible improvements. A qualitative analysis of the data was based of the transcription of the audiotapes.

Results: Patients read the PILs selectively. They were most interested in side effects, contraindications and the purpose of the prescribed drug. Participants reported that the language in PILs is too scientific. In the case they do not understand PILs or they recognise some of the side effects, a majority of participants decide to contact a family physician first, and less frequently a pharmacist or a nurse. A family physician is considered to be the most trustworthy source of information and patients think that pharmacists could play a more active role in patients’ education.

Conclusion: Current PILs offer enough partial information to patients but need some improvements in terms of better legibility and access to the most crucial information. PIL does not enable a comprehensive information with respect to patient’s health status. Most reliable source of information is considered to be a family practitioner. Pharmacists could play a more active role in the education of patients.


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How to Cite
Poplas-Susič T, Klemenc-Ketis Z, Kersnik J. Usefulness of the patient information leaflet (PIL) and information on medicines from professionals: A patients’ view. A qualitative study. ZdravVestn [Internet]. 1 [cited 27Jan.2020];83(5). Available from:
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