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Prevalence and perceived preventability of self-reported adverse drug events - a population-based survey of 7099 adults
Nordic School of Public Health NHV, Gothenburg.
Nordic School of Public Health NHV, Gothenburg. Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg.
Nordic School of Public Health NHV, Gothenburg. Centre fo Applied Biostatistics, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Drug Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Center for Diagnostics, Department of Clinical Pharmacology.
2013 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 8, no 9, e73166- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Adverse drug events (ADEs) are common and often preventable among inpatients, but self-reported ADEs have not been investigated in a representative sample of the general public. The objectives of this study were to estimate the 1-month prevalence of self-reported ADEs among the adult general public, and the perceived preventability of 2 ADE categories: adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and sub-therapeutic effects (STEs).


In this cross-sectional study, a postal survey was sent in October 2010 to a random sample of 13 931 Swedish residents aged ≥18 years. Self-reported ADEs experienced during the past month included ADRs, STEs, drug dependence, drug intoxications and morbidity due to drug-related untreated indication. ADEs could be associated with prescription, non-prescription or herbal drugs. The respondents estimated whether ADRs and STEs could have been prevented. ADE prevalences in age groups (18–44, 45–64, or ≥65 years) were compared.


Of 7099 respondents (response rate 51.0%), ADEs were reported by 19.4% (95% confidence interval, 18.5–20.3%), and the prevalence did not differ by age group (p>0.05). The prevalences of self-reported ADRs, STEs, and morbidities due to drug-related untreated indications were 7.8% (7.2–8.4%), 7.6% (7.0–8.2%) and 8.1% (7.5–8.7%), respectively. The prevalence of self-reported drug dependence was 2.2% (1.9–2.6%), and drug intoxications 0.2% (0.1–0.3%). The respondents considered 19.2% (14.8–23.6%) of ADRs and STEs preventable. Although reported drugs varied between ADE categories, most ADEs were attributable to commonly dispensed drugs. Drugs reported for all and preventable events were similar.


One-fifth of the adult general public across age groups reported ADEs during the past month, indicating a need for prevention strategies beyond hospitalised patients. For this, the underlying causes of ADEs should increasingly be investigated. The high burden of ADEs and preventable ADEs from widely used drugs across care settings supports redesigning a safer healthcare system to adequately tackle the problem.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 8, no 9, e73166- p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-99366DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073166ISI: 000324515600075PubMedID: 24023828OAI: diva2:656683
Available from: 2013-10-16 Created: 2013-10-16 Last updated: 2013-10-29

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