Open Access Research article

Predictors for patient knowledge and reported behaviour regarding driving under the influence of medicines: a multi-country survey

Susana P Monteiro12*, Liset van Dijk3, Alain G Verstraete24, F Javier Álvarez25, Michael Heissing26 and Johan J de Gier12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacotherapy and Pharmaceutical Care, University of Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 1 9713AV Groningen, The Netherlands

2 Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, Alcohol and Medicines (DRUID) project, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 175, BE-1048 Bruxelles, Belgium

3 NIVEL, Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, PO Box 1568, 3500, BN Utrecht, The Netherlands

4 Department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

5 Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Faculty of Medicine, University of Valladolid, 47005 Valladolid, Spain

6 BASt, Federal Highway Research Institute, Brüderstraße 53, 51427 Bergisch Gladbach, Federal Republic of Germany

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:59  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-59

Published: 20 January 2012



Reports on the state of knowledge about medicines and driving showed an increased concern about the role that the use of medicines might play in car crashes. Much of patient knowledge regarding medicines comes from communications with healthcare professionals. This study, part of the DRUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, alcohol and medicines) project, was carried out in four European countries and attempts to define predictors for knowledge of patients who use driving-impairing medicines. The influence of socio-demographic variables on patient knowledge was investigated as well as the influence of socio-demographic factors, knowledge and attitudes on patients' reported behaviour regarding driving under the influence of medicines.


Pharmacists handed out questionnaires to patients who met the inclusion criteria: 1) prevalent user of benzodiazepines, antidepressants or first generation antihistamines for systemic use; 2) age between 18 and 75 years old and 3) actual driver of a motorised vehicle. Factors affecting knowledge and reported behaviour towards driving-impairing medicines were analysed by means of multiple linear regression analysis and multiple logistic regression analysis, respectively.


A total of 633 questionnaires (out of 3.607 that were distributed to patients) were analysed. Patient knowledge regarding driving under the influence of medicines is better in younger and higher educated patients. Information provided to or accessed by patients does not influence knowledge. Patients who experienced side effects and who have a negative attitude towards driving under the influence of impairing medicines are more prone to change their driving frequency behaviour than those who use their motorised vehicles on a daily basis or those who use anti-allergic medicines.


Changes in driving behaviour can be predicted by negative attitudes towards driving under the influence of medicines but not by patients' knowledge regarding driving under the influence of medicines. Future research should not only focus on information campaigns for patients but also for healthcare providers as this might contribute to improve communications with patients regarding the risks of driving under the influence of medicines.