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Recent barometer study mapped pharmacists’ views of self-care products for abdominal symptoms


A three-phase barometer study concerning abdominal symptoms mapped Finnish pharmacists’ views and experiences regarding self-care of abdominal symptoms and grounds for recommending different self-care products in pharmacies. The three phases of the study covered the self-care of diarrhoea, constipation and heartburn.

The barometer study was carried out at the end of 2018 via Farenta Net, which is a service provided by Oriola Group. The study included the most commonly used self-care products for abdominal symptoms in Finland. The study comprehensively assessed, for example, what kinds of underlying causes lead to the abdominal symptoms that customers seek help for from the pharmacy, what products pharmacists recommend to customers in different situations, and which factors influence the choice of the recommended products.

“The barometer study provides us with fresh information about consumer needs relating to self-care, and also enables us to respond to our pharmacy customers’ potential need for more detailed information regarding the self-care products on the market,” says Kaisa Rämä, Head of Sales and Marketing Services.

327, 247 and 229 pharmacists (M.Sc. and B.Sc.) and pharmacy owners responded to the diarrhoea barometer, constipation barometer and heartburn barometer, respectively. Responses were gathered comprehensively from pharmacies in all hospital districts, and the number of respondents corresponds to the average demographic distribution of the hospital districts.

Examples of study results:

  • 86% of respondents rated their knowledge about the chronic illnesses or other potential underlying conditions causing diarrhoea symptoms as moderate or rather good. As many as 10% of respondents felt that their knowledge of the treatment of diarrhoea was rather poor.
  • More than half of the respondents said that they recommended three of the products included in the study for the treatment of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. In other words, recommendations are not divided evenly between the products on the market.
  • In the respondents’ experience, the most common underlying diseases causing constipation are pain and pain medication (especially opiates), mental health problems and their medicinal treatment, intestinal diseases, physical passivity and antihypertensives such as diuretics. 
  • As for heartburn, the most common causes were found to be pain medicines, gastroesophageal reflux disease, overweight, cardiac symptoms and digestive disorders.
  • When recommending products for the treatment of recent-onset constipation, the respondents favoured products that they felt were easy to use, effective and fast-acting.  For the treatment of longer-term constipation, the most common grounds for recommendation were the safety and efficacy of the product and the Current Care Guidelines for self-medication.