Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 363–373 | Cite as

Informing patients about drug side effects

  • Louis A. Morris
  • David E. Kanouse


Two hundred forty-nine newly diagnosed hypertensive patients prescribed thiazide medication were recruited for study. Two-thirds were given a leaflet or patient package insert (PPI) that described the drug and its possible side effects, and one-third were not. At a revisit about 1 month later, patients were asked whether they had experienced any of 17 different “health problems.” For each problem that they experienced, they were asked whether they thought the problem was related to the medicine they were taking. Ten of the health problems were taken verbatim from the PPI's list of possible drug side effects. Patients who received the PPI reported experiencing about the same number of side effects as the non-PPI subjects. However, those who recieved the PPI were more likely to attribute experienced reactions to the drug. This was true both for reactions specifically listed in the PPI and for similar reactions not listed. Results support the notion of an “attribution-labeling” process rather than a “suggestion” effect.

Key words

drug side effects suggestion labeling patient package inserts 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis A. Morris
    • 1
  • David E. Kanouse
    • 2
  1. 1.HFD-175Food and Drug AdministrationRockville
  2. 2.The Rand CorporationSanta Monica

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