An assessment of pregnant women's knowledge and use of the Internet for medication safety information and purchase.

Marlene Sinclair, Briege M Lagan, Helen Dolk, JEM McCullough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
140 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this study was to assess pregnant women's Internet searching activity about medication safety, knowledge and perceptions of medication risk and willingness to take prescribed and non-prescribed medication or make online medication purchases.

Online medication advice for pregnant women is complex. The quality and veracity of this data is increasingly important as more midwives report women are bringing retrieved online information to clinical appointments. Pregnant women's use of the Internet for seeking medication advice and purchasing medications has not yet been fully investigated.

Online survey conducted from January - March 2013.

Of the 284 respondents, 39% were taking a medication when they became pregnant and 76% had searched the Internet for medication safety information. Analgesics were the most commonly searched category (41%). Health service sites were the most common online source and regarded as the most helpful and trusted. Regardless of age and education level, 90% of women agreed that if trying to become pregnant they would reconsider taking any medications because of the potential risk to their unborn baby. Forty-six percent of women with higher levels of education consider buying medication online as safe, a greater proportion than those of lower education. Five percent of women reported buying medication online.

The lack of specific recommendations for medication use during pregnancy is challenging for healthcare staff and pregnant women who need robust evidence to make informed treatment decisions. The Internet is a recognized, commonly accessed, source of medication information for pregnant women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-147
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number1
Early online date7 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 18 Dec 2017


  • Internet
  • medication information
  • medication safety
  • medication use
  • Midwifery
  • nursing
  • online survey
  • Pregnancy


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