Purchasing Over-the-counter medicines from Australian pharmacy: What do the pharmacy customers value and expect?

Main Article Content


Nonprescription Drugs, Attitude to Health, Patient Medication Knowledge, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Pharmacies, Community Pharmacy Services, Surveys and Questionnaires, Australia


Background: Over-the-counter medicines (OTC) are widely available and can be purchased without a prescription. Their availability means that a customer may choose to purchase them without the involvement of a pharmacy/pharmacist. It is important to understand customer OTC purchasing perceptions and behaviour from a pharmacy to better understand the needs and opportunities in this space.

Objective: This study aimed to examine customers’ key expectations and what they value when purchasing OTC and how the effect of health status/stress and perceived risks/benefits of purchasing OTCs from a pharmacy may influence their OTC shopping behaviour.

Methods: Customers from two metropolitan pharmacies across two different suburbs in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia completed a self-administered questionnaire. Data collection was conducted over a six-week period. The questionnaire examined demographics, current level of health and stress, as well as a range of questions (seven-point Likert-scale) examining perceived benefits and risks, what they value, trust and expect when purchasing OTC.

Results: A total of 86 customers from a broad range of demographics were captured in this study. When asked about their current health state, 41% and 23% respectively indicated that they were stressed and tense when they arrived at the pharmacy but many were feeling well (38%). Most customers strongly agreed/agreed that trust in the advice from a pharmacy (96%), trust in the products (73%), and the altruistic approach of a pharmacy (95%) were critical to them. Further, 82% and 78% respectively disagreed that time pressures or costs were concerns, despite many feeling tense and stressed when they came in. When asked where they intend to buy their future OTC, 89% indicated pharmacy instead of a supermarket.

Conclusions: High levels of trust, confidence and sense of altruism and care were key factors for customers buying OTC from a pharmacy, regardless of time pressures, costs or existing levels of stress and health.

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