Background Children’s understanding of medicines has an impact on their behavior toward those medicines, and yet there has been a paucity of studies exploring this area. Objectives To assess children’s ability to identify and to explore their risk perceptions of medicines. Methods One hundred eighty-two children aged 4 to 11 years at 2 primary schools in England completed a worksheet containing photos of foods and pharmaceutical products. Children were asked to identify what the picture showed and classify it as “good for them,” “bad for them,” or “sometimes good/sometimes bad for them.” Responses were marked as correct if they identified an item without the need for exact identification. Where an item was correctly identified, risk perception was analyzed. Results Children correctly identified 5 of the 7 pictures as a form of medicine (mean=5.10, standard deviation=1.51), and identification was positively correlated with age (ρ=0.59, P<.001). A greater percentage of children correctly identified bicolored capsules (86.3% correct, 95% confidence interval [CI]=81.3-91.3) as medicines than either white (71.4% correct, 95% CI=64.9-78) or pink tablets (33.5% correct, 95% CI=26.7-40.4). There was a significant shift with age in the perceptions of the children as they changed from reporting that medicines were good for them to reporting that they were sometimes good and sometimes bad for them. This held for all medicines (χ2 tests, P<.05) except for the cream and the inhaler. Conclusions As children get older, they become better at identifying medicines, and they become more likely to see their potential risks.
- Perceived risk