Cochrane Library: Consumer-oriented interventions for evidence-based prescribing and medicines use: an overview of systematic reviews

12 May 2011 | Medication Safety

Medicines are a cornerstone of treatment for many health problems. Many strategies exist to help people to use medicines safely and effectively, but research in the area is not well organised across diseases, populations and settings. This can make it difficult for policy makers, health professionals and others to find and use the evidence about what works and what does not.

This overview summarised the evidence contained in 37 systematic reviews on consumers' medicine use. A wide range of strategies to improve medicines use, including information provision, support for behaviour change, risk minimisation and skills acquisition, was included. No one type of strategy improved medicines use outcomes across all diseases, populations or settings, or for all outcomes.

Strategies that appear promising to improve medicines use included medicines self-monitoring and self-management, simplified dosing and direct involvement of pharmacists in medicines management. Other strategies such as reminders; education combined with self-management skills training, counselling or support; financial incentives; and strategies involving lay health workers may also show promise, although effects were less consistent. Some strategies, such as providing information or education as single interventions, may be ineffective; while for many strategies there is not enough evidence to decide how effective or ineffective they are.

Reviews included in this overview often had methodological limitations, meaning results should be interpreted with caution. Despite the large number of included reviews there are many gaps in the assembled evidence on medicines use strategies, such as those focussing on children, young people or carers, or those for people with more than one coexisting health problem.


From the Cochrane Library.

Citation: Ryan R, Santesso N, Hill S, Lowe D, Kaufman C, Grimshaw J. Consumer-oriented interventions for evidence-based prescribing and medicines use: an overview of systematic reviews. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD007768. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007768.pub2.


Last updated 15/11/2019