Women's beliefs about medication use during their pregnancy: a UK perspective

Michael Twigg, Angela Lupattelli, Hedvig Nordeng

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Background: Previous research has examined the number and extent of medicines taking in pregnant women but not their beliefs and risk perception surrounding their use.

Objective: To describe beliefs and risk perception associated with medicines use for the treatment of common acute conditions among UK women and explore whether this is related to actual medicines use.

Settings: Cross-sectional, web-based study in the UK

Methods: Pregnant women and mothers within one year of giving birth were invited to participate in an online cross-sectional questionnaire-based study via a pregnancy website in the UK. Anonymous data were collected from women regarding their use of medicines (both over-the-counter and prescribed) and their beliefs regarding medicines use during pregnancy.

Main outcome measures: Pregnant women’s beliefs about medicines and their relation to pharmacological treatment of acute conditions in pregnancy.

Results: Pharmacological treatment of conditions in pregnancy ranged from 65.4% for urinary tract infections (UTIs) to 1.1% for sleeping problems. Almost three out of ten women avoided using some medications during pregnancy. For heartburn and UTIs, women who did not treat the condition viewed medicines in general as being overused, more harmful and less beneficial, than those who treated the condition. In general, UK pregnant women perceived medicines to be beneficial and slightly overused.

Conclusions: Women’s beliefs about medications impact on treatment of specific conditions in pregnancy such as heartburn and UTIs. Healthcare professionals should explore patient’s beliefs regarding medication at the first maternity care visit to promote appropriate medication use in pregnancy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)968–976
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number4
Early online date30 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Beliefs about medicines
  • Medicines
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk perception
  • United Kingdom

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