Objectives: This paper presents preliminary findings from the first 10 case studies of Consumers who each suspect they have experienced an adverse drug reaction (ADR). These case studies are part of a larger study involving Consumer/Doctor decisions surrounding adverse drug reactions and prescribing, which is captured in Diagram 1. The key problem identified from our preliminary background work is that there appear to be gaps in our knowledge about the nature of the decisions being made that relate to ADRs, who these decisions are made by, the information required to make these decisions, the completeness of knowledge that is being used and the impact these factors have on the prevention, early detection or management of ADRs. Further investigation will assist in the development of decision support software in this area.
Extracts of three case studies, from a larger qualitative study, are used to illustrate an emerging theme about the issue of the risks versus the benefits of providing detailed information about adverse drug reactions (ADRs) to consumers. The case studies include the consumer, medical and expert views of a single event, a suspected adverse drug reaction. The consumers would like more information. The doctors expressed that providing information about all possible ADRs can result in some consumers choosing not to take medications due to the perceived risk of the medication. The ADR experts stated that providing ADR information to the consumers within the presented case studies, might have assisted in earlier detection of the ADR, resulting in a less severe reaction. This paper aims to illustrate this emerging theme of the risks versus the benefits of providing consumers with information about potential ADRs and suggest some ways of increasing the benefits and minimizing the risk. We then indicate how these finding may inform future development of ADR decision support systems.