Skip to main content
Log in

How important is a package insert for drug therapy in ambulatory care?

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Journal of Public Health Aims and scope Submit manuscript


German regulations demand an extensive package insert for drugs. However, to what extent the information given is used and what consequences this use actually has remain unclear. The aim of this study was to describe different patterns of patient package insert (PPI) use, to estimate the proportion of each of these patterns, and to evaluate the impact of the information on patients’ reported medication compliance. In spring 2005, 45 randomly chosen customers from five urban pharmacies were questioned about their behaviour regarding PPI. Interviews were based on a structured interview guideline, and were electronically recorded, transcribed and coded in a consensus process. Less than one-half of the patients interviewed were able to repeat specific PPI content. A minority of patients had probably read the PPI, but could not remember any details. Patients had read the PPI only superficially, did not understand its meaning, had read it long time ago, or gave a socially requested answer. Reading the PPI has fewer consequences in terms of an arbitrary change of the prescribed drug concept than has been previously assumed. Recommendations of physicians and pharmacists were more helpful than information contained in a PPI. Due to a sense of responsibility, the PPI is read more thoroughly if third persons are affected. PPIs are read only selectively, a finding that should be considered when writing them.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Britten N (1995) Qualitative interviews in medical research. BMJ 311:251–253

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Dunkelberg S (2005) Wie gut ist eine qualitative Studie? 10 hilfreiche Fragen für den Leser von Aufsätzen. Z Allg Med 81:248–251

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Emnid (1996) Umfrage zum Medikamentengebrauch, ref. Internistische Praxis 36:140–141

    Google Scholar 

  • Fischer GC (1998) Complianceprobleme in der hausärztlichen Praxis. In: Petermann F (ed) Compliance und Selbstmanagement. Hogrefe 139–149

  • Fuchs J, Hippius M, Schaefer M (2002) So wünschen sich Patienten ihre Packungsbeilage. Pharm Ztg 147:18

    Google Scholar 

  • Fuchs J, Hippius M, Schaefer M (2003) Gestaltung von Packungsbeilagen für Arzneimittel. Pharm Ind 65:302–306

    Google Scholar 

  • Gulich M, Knaus W, Breuning Th, Schmidt UM (2004) Bedeutung des Beipackzettels für die medikamentöse Therapie in der ambulanten Pharmakotherapie—Auswertung von 77 Patienteninterviews. 11. Jahrestagung der GAA, Jena, e-gms, online publication

  • Hasford J, Behrend C, Sangha O (1998) Vergleichende Analyse und Bewertung von Methoden zur Erfassung der Compliance aus. In: Petermann F (ed) Compliance und Selbstmanagement. Hogrefe 21–44

  • König R (ed) (1972) Das qualitative Interview. In: Das Interview, 7 edn. Kiepenheuer and Witsch, Köln, pp 143–160

  • Maywald U, Schindler C, Bux Y, Kirch W (2005) Arzneimittelberatung für Patienten- Bedarfsanalyse, Evaluation und Einfluss auf die Compliance. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 130:1485–1490

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Seelbach H (1979a) Der Beipackzettel, ein Problem für Ärzte und Patienten. Therapiewoche 29:677–4684

    Google Scholar 

  • Seelbach H (1979b) Informationsmenge und Angst. Therapiewoche 29:4673–4676

    Google Scholar 

  • Sielk M, Brockmann S, Wilm S (2004) Qualitative Forschung—Hineindeuten in oder Abbilden der Wirklichkeit? Ein klärender methodischer Überblick. Z Allg Med 80:334–342

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van Haecht CH, Vander-Stichele R, Bogaert MG (1990) Package inserts for antihypertensive drugs: use by the patients and impact on adverse drug reactions. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 39:551–554

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


Supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Markus Gulich.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Stahl, C., Brauer, S., Zeitler, HP. et al. How important is a package insert for drug therapy in ambulatory care?. J Public Health 14, 174–177 (2006).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: