Counselling women about periconceptional use of folic acid: The role of the community pharmacist can be improved

L. T.W. De Jong-Van Den Berg, A. H. Van Der Zee, E. Schaafsma, D. De Smit, C. Anderson, M. C. Cornel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective - To assess community pharmacists' attitudes towards, and practice behaviour, relating to the periconceptional use of folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. Method - A postal questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 150 community pharmacists at the end of 1996. The questionnaire covered knowledge, attitude and behaviour regarding the use of folic acid by women of childbearing age. Setting - Two regions in the Netherlands (Northern and Western Netherlands). Key findings - The response rate was 72 per cent. Pharmacists' attitudes towards promoting the use of folic acid by women who wish to have a child are positive. Most pharmacists reported distributing folic acid brochures in their pharmacy and many stated that they displayed posters to promote the use of folic acid. Nearly 30 per cent of pharmacists reported using an additional label on the packaging of oral contraceptives with the standard text: 'If you stop using the pill because you wish to have a child, please ask your pharmacist for information about the use of folic acid before you become pregnant'. Perceived attitudes of local general practitioners seemed to influence the willingness of pharmacists to promote the use of folic acid. The results indicate a tendency for some pharmacists to be more reactive than proactive in their advice-giving on the use of folic acid. Conclusion - Compared with the findings of a similar survey two years ago, it appears that more pharmacists are actively promoting the periconceptional use of folic acid. However, further improvements could still be achieved and pharmacists could become more proactive in their information and advice-giving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-142
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 1999

Cite this