American Gastroenterological Association

Educating Women About Medication Use

The Challenge

Overdose of common over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicine is a growing but largely unrecognized problem in the U.S. This high-risk behavior is putting thousands of people in danger of serious side effects such as stomach bleeding, ulcers, liver damage, and even death. To encourage women 45 years and older to carefully read medicine labels, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) engaged our team to develop a public-health education campaign, Gut Check: Know Your Medicine, to encourage safe-use dialogue between patients and their health-care professionals.

Our Approach

We narrowed our target audience to focus on women and chronic pain sufferers, as well as health-care professionals, to ensure that clinicians were aware of the issue and could engage in the crucial collaborative conversations that promote safer OTC use.

To generate widespread media coverage, we conducted a national survey to gain insight into people’s OTC medicine use habits and to measure both the misunderstanding and lack of education on this issue from both the patient and health-care professional perspectives.  Key to Gut Check’s success has been the involvement of three medical experts from AGA — “the chairs” — who played an important role in reviewing materials, providing patient anecdotes, and speaking with media.

The Result

Building on the national survey data, we developed and implemented a multi-faceted outreach campaign targeted toward consumers and health-care professionals. Our efforts have made significant strides in enhancing the OTC pain medicine safety message and have greatly expanded awareness of the issue.