International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 187–195 | Cite as

Pharmacists and patients feedback on empirically designed prescription warning labels: a qualitative study

  • Olayinka O. ShiyanbolaEmail author
  • Paul D. Smith
  • Yen-Ming Huang
  • Sonal Ghura Mansukhani
Research Article


Background Recommendations call for the inclusion of both patient and provider input in the redesign of prescription labels. Pharmacist opinions on prescription warning labels are important because they are the health providers who would eventually distribute and explain the revised labels during medication counseling. They may be the first health provider to notice a patient’s misunderstanding on how to safely use their prescription medications. Objectives To explore the perspectives of patients and pharmacists on five newly designed PWLs, and examine if there were similarities and differences between patients’ and pharmacists’ perspectives. Setting Private room in Wisconsin. Methods A descriptive study using semi-structured 60-min face-to-face individual interviews with patients and pharmacists explored patients and pharmacists’ feedback on five newly designed PWLs. Patients who were 18 years and older, spoke English, and took a prescription medication and pharmacists who filled prescriptions in an ambulatory setting participated in the study. The patient and pharmacist perspectives on the words (content), picture and color (cosmetic appearance), and placement of warning instructions on the pill bottle (convenience) was based on a label redesign framework. Qualitative content analysis was done. Main outcome measure Patient and pharmacist perspectives on the newly designed PWLs. Results Twenty-one patients and eight pharmacists practicing in an academic medical center outpatient setting (n = 5) or retail pharmacy (n = 3) participated. All patients and pharmacists wanted the PWLs positioned on the front of the pill bottle but not the side of the bottle or warning instructions embedded into the main prescription label. Other similarities included participants preferring: (1) pictures closely depicting the instructions and (2) the use of yellow highlighting on the PWL to draw attention to it. There were differences in patient and pharmacist perspectives regarding the addition of ‘Warning’ to the instruction on the PWL with the patient preference to include the word ‘Warning’. Pharmacists thought some PWL pictures had racial stereotypes, but this feedback was never mentioned by patients. Conclusions Patients and pharmacists had different preferences for PWL design changes to improve understandability. Pharmacist preferences did not always correspond with patient preferences. However, patients and pharmacists generally agreed on the preferred location of the PWL on the pill bottle and the use of color for drawing patients’ attention.


Prescription warning labels Patient perspectives Pharmacist perspectives Medication safety Qualitative study United States 



We would like to thank the Wisconsin Research and Education Network for the coordination of all study activities and the recruitment of patients. We appreciate the advice and insights of Theo Raynor during the design of the project. The project described was supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, through the National Institute of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), grant UL1TR000427. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.


This research was funded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation [Grant Number MSN175988].

Conflicts of interest

The authors do not have any conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 12 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 24 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olayinka O. Shiyanbola
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul D. Smith
    • 2
  • Yen-Ming Huang
    • 1
  • Sonal Ghura Mansukhani
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Social and Administrative Sciences, School of PharmacyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family Medicine and Community HealthUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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