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Methodology Used to Assess Acceptability of Oral Pediatric Medicines: A Systematic Literature Search and Narrative Review



Regulatory guidelines require that any new medicine designed for a pediatric population must be demonstrated as being acceptable to that population. There is currently no guidance on how to conduct or report on acceptability testing.


Our objective was to undertake a review of the methods used to assess the acceptability of medicines within a pediatric population and use this review to propose the most appropriate methodology.


We used a defined search strategy to identify literature reports of acceptability assessments of medicines conducted within pediatric populations and extracted information about the tools used in these studies for comparison across studies.


In total, 61 articles were included in the analysis. Palatability was the most common (54/61) attribute measured when evaluating acceptability. Simple scale methods were most commonly used, with visual analog scales (VAS) and hedonic scales used both separately and in combination in 34 of the 61 studies. Hedonic scales alone were used in 14 studies and VAS alone in just five studies. Other tools included Likert scales; forced choice or preference; surveys or questionnaires; observations of facial expressions during administration, ease of swallowing, or ability to swallow the dosage; prevalence of complaints or refusal to take the medicine; and time taken for a nurse to administer the medicine.


The best scale in terms of validity, reliability, feasibility, and preference to use when assessing acceptability remains unclear. Further work is required to select the most appropriate method to justify whether a medicine is acceptable to a pediatric population.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hannah Batchelor.

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This project was supported by Innovate UK Formulated Products Collaborative R&D project (Ref: 101709). SPaeDD-UK (Accelerating Paediatric Formulation Development through Smart Design and Predictive Science), which is co-funded by Innovate UK and the contributing companies of AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Juniper Pharmaceuticals, and Pfizer.

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PM and HB have no conflicts of interest.

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On behalf of SPaeDD-UK project: Smart Paediatric Drug Development-UK, accelerating paediatric formulation development

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Mistry, P., Batchelor, H. & On behalf of SPaeDD-UK project. Methodology Used to Assess Acceptability of Oral Pediatric Medicines: A Systematic Literature Search and Narrative Review. Pediatr Drugs 19, 223–233 (2017).

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  • Visual Analog Scale
  • Facial Expression
  • Pediatric Population
  • Famciclovir
  • Hedonic Scale