Exploring public knowledge and perceptions regarding per os OTC pain-relieving medications: the case of paracetamol (acetaminophen)

Michael Petrides, Aliki Peletidi, Christos Petrou, Evangelia Nena, Maria Papavasili, Theodoros Constantinidis, Christos Kontogiorgis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Over-the-counter medications (OTC) are safe and effective when patients follow the patient’s information leaflet (PIL) instructions and/or the instructions given by healthcare professionals (HCPs). However, OTC medications could be harmful and unsafe when individuals do not follow the given instructions and/or when their understanding about the proper use of OTC medications is incorrect. This study aimed to investigate the knowledge and perceptions of people regarding paracetamol use in the Republic of Cyprus. Methods: This cross-sectional study, which belongs to quantitative research methods, included participants visiting community pharmacies in the following three cities of the Republic of Cyprus: Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca. Participation in the study was voluntary and anonymous. Participants responded to the survey-based questionnaire, which concerned their knowledge and views on paracetamol use. After the data collection, responses were tabulated and analysed statistically. Results: The original compound was shown to be more well-known compared to generics. A notable percentage of respondents—ranging between 13.0% (N = 49) and 29.8% (N = 112)—answered incorrectly that broadly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) contain paracetamol. Furthermore, a remarkable percentage of respondents (71.5%, N = 269 and 50.3%, N = 189, respectively) falsely believed that two widely used combination products in the market of Cyprus (Paracetamol and Hyoscine-N-butylbromide; Paracetamol and Codeine and Caffeine) did not contain paracetamol. A notable percentage of participants (27.6%, N = 100) believed that paracetamol causes low toxicity. More than a third of the respondents (40.2%, N = 149) drink alcohol together with or slightly after consuming paracetamol products. This viewpoint was linked with the participants’ attitude towards consuming paracetamol medications after drinking alcohol (OR for consuming alcohol versus not consuming alcohol 0.100, 95% CI 0.044–0.225, p = 0.000). Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study conducted in the Republic of Cyprus on this topic. Paracetamol is frequently consumed by individuals, both in its generic and original forms. However, the study showed that respondents often misperceive NSAIDs and paracetamol-containing medications. In addition, it is identified that there is a lack of education among people about the safe and effective use of paracetamol, namely, indications, potential side effects, maximum daily dose, alcohol consumption, and the potential risks of hepatotoxicity. The study contributed to the current published literature as it showed that there is a significant public health issue, for which appropriate measures can be established by the respective Authorities of Cyprus.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number93
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2023


    • Community pharmacies
    • Over-the-counter medications
    • Pain relief
    • Paracetamol/acetaminophen/APAP use
    • Pharmacoepidemiological study
    • Republic of Cyprus


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