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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

General beliefs about medicines among doctors and nurses in out-patient care: a cross-sectional study

Ann-Charlotte Mårdby1*, Ingemar Åkerlind2 and Tove Hedenrud1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden

2 School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Västerås, Sweden

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BMC Family Practice 2009, 10:35  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-35

Published: 18 May 2009



Doctors and nurses are two natural partners in the healthcare team, but they usually differ in their perspectives on how to work for increased health. These professions may also have different beliefs about medicines, a factor important for adherence to medicines. The aim was to explore general beliefs about medicines among doctors and nurses.


Questionnaires were sent to 306 private practitioners (PPs), 298 general practitioners (GPs) and 303 nurses in the county of Västra Götaland, Sweden. The questionnaire included sociodemographic questions and the general part of the Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire (BMQ), which measures the beliefs people have about medicines in general. General beliefs about medicines in relation to background variables were explored with independent t-tests and ANOVA analyses. Differences between occupations and influences of interaction variables were analysed with multiple linear regression models for general beliefs about medicines.


The data collection resulted in 616 questionnaires (62.1% PPs; 61.6% GPs; 80.5% nurses). The majority of the PPs and 40% of the GPs were male but most of the nurses were female. The GPs' mean age was 47 years, PPs' 60 years and nurses' 52 years. Few nurses originated from non-Nordic countries while 15% of the PPs and 25% of the GPs did. Nurses saw medicines as more harmful and less beneficial than did PPs and GPs. These differences could not be explained by the included interaction variables. GPs with a Nordic background saw medicines as more beneficial and less harmful than did GPs with a non-Nordic background.

Furthermore, GPs of non-Nordic origin were most likely to believe that medicines were overprescribed by doctors.


Doctors were more positive about medicines than nurses. The differences in beliefs about medicines found between doctors and nurses could not be explained by any of the included interaction variables. These differences in beliefs may be useful in discussions among future and practising doctors and nurses to enhance understanding of each other's profession and teamwork.