Evaluation of use, comprehensibility and clarity of over-the-counter medicine labels: Consumers’ perspectives and needs in Taiwan

Yen Ming Huang, Ling Jie Chen, Ling–Ling Hsieh, Hsun Yu Chan, Karin C.S. Chen-Liu, Yunn Fang Ho*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


An estimate of one third of preventable medication errors occurred annually due to patients’ misunderstanding of use instructions. To safeguard consumers’ over-the-counter (OTC) medicine use and to develop future initiatives, this study evaluated the use, comprehensibility and clarity of the information labels on OTC packages from consumers’ perspectives in Taiwan. This cross-sectional study was conducted at 29 community pharmacies; 50 pharmacy clerkship students helped participant enrolment from June to September 2017. Participants (n = 470) were 20 years old or above, Mandarin speaking, and with specific OTC purchases. A face-to-face survey was administered to investigate the degree to which participants read the package labels and their comprehension of correct medicine use. An 11-item survey was used to measure participants’ specific OTC purchases (3 items), the use (2 items), comprehensibility (1 item) and clarity (2 items) of OTC package labels, in addition to the sociodemographic information (3 items). Participants were also solicited to provide opinions regarding package label redesign. Descriptive statistics and logistic regressions were applied for analyses. Findings show that most (84.0%) participants read instruction labels before use, with indications (79.4%), drug names (64.5%) and dosage and administration (59.8%) being the top reads. Only 30.0% of the participants fully understood how to take the medicines correctly. Younger (OR = 1.033, p <.001) and female participants (OR = 1.965, p =.014) with a higher level of education (OR = 1.940, p =.034) tended to read package label information prior to purchase or use. Younger participants (OR = 1.030, p <.001) and those who read OTC medicine labels before use (OR = 2.317, p =.004) were more likely to correctly understand medicine use. The findings indicate that older, male adults with a lower level of education should be targeted to ensure their correct understanding of OTC labels. Pharmacists should recite pertinent label information and, concomitantly, ensure consumers’ understanding when providing medicine counselling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-761
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • clarity
  • comprehensibility
  • medicine label
  • over-the-counter
  • use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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