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Table 2 COTC-related perceptions and preventive practices among users (n=789)

From: Acute adverse events from over-the-counter Chinese herbal medicines: a population-based survey of Hong Kong Chinese

  Response choices
  Agree Not sure Disagree
Perceived benefits    
 At least as effective as western drugs 31.9% 22.8% 45.2%
 Less side effects than western drug 69.1% 15.7% 15.2%
 Cheaper than western drug 37.4% 18.8% 43.9%
 Help reduce medical costs 42.1% 17.9% 39.9%
 Safer than western drugs 39.4% 21.3% 39.3%
 Helps people to stay healthy 54.9% 21.4% 23.6%
Perceived severity    
 COTC poisoning is more serious than for western drugs* 34.2% 42.7% 22.9%
 COTC poisoning due to drug interaction could be fatal 82.8% 12.0% 5.2%
 COTC overdose could result in hospitalization 87.5% 7.7% 4.8%
Perceived susceptibility    
 Easy to misuse COTC due to unclear instruction 33.8% 5.9% 60.4%
 I am likely to experience COTC-related side effects 9.9% 8.4% 81.7%
 I am likely to experience drug interactions with COTC 37.6% 24.8% 37.6%
 Government has adequate regulation for COTC safety* 15.0% 20.6% 64.5%
Perceived barriers    
 Making TCM doctor appointments for COTC advice is inconvenient 27.2% 31.7% 41.1%
 TCM prescriptions are expensive 36.9% 25.5% 37.6%
 Easy to find COTC information on the internet 16.2% 62.4% 21.4%
 Physicians do not have reliable knowledge about COTC 71.8% 16.9% 11.3%
 Pharmacists do not have reliable COTC knowledge 65.3% 17.8% 16.9%
 COTC package instructions are inadequate or unclear 42.9% 18.1% 39.0%
Preventive practices** Habitually Occasionally Never
 Read COTC labels 66.8% 24.0% 9.3%
 Read COTC package inserts 55.9% 32.0% 12.2%
 Ask COTC information from retailers 13.2% 35.7% 51.1%
 Search online for COTC information 3.9% 15.6% 80.5%
 Ask Western MDs or pharmacists about COTC use 3.3% 12.6% 84.2%
 Tell their medical doctor about TCM use 33.2% 20.6% 46.2%
 Asked TCM practitioner about COTC 8.1% 22.0% 69.9%
  1. *Item not included in summative scale score due to low item-total correlation.
  2. **Original 5-point Likert responses were recoded as: Habitually (Always or Often), Occasionally (Sometimes or Seldom) and Never due to small cell counts.