Action needed to prevent confusion over medicines

21 June 2017        

Category: BHF Comment


Only about a third (37 per cent) of the public trust evidence from medical research, compared to approximately two-thirds (65 per cent) who trust the experiences of their friends and family, according to a report by the Academy of Medical Sciences, part-funded by us.

The new report highlights the significant difficulties patients and some healthcare professionals face in using evidence from medical research to judge the benefits and harms of medicines, and calls for concerted action to improve the information patients receive. .


The new report urges the public and medical professionals to make better use of medical appointments, and launches a set of questions for patients to discuss with their doctor to help them make informed decisions about whether to take a medicine. 

Active involvement in decision-making about their own health has been shown to improve outcomes for patients. 

The report also recommends that some patients taking multiple medications for long-term conditions will need longer appointments with health professionals to make informed decisions.

Empowering patients

These recommendations are about empowering patients to help them take an active part in their own healthcare. But the report also calls on a range of people and organisations involved in research to work harder to ensure that patients have access to clear and accurate information.

Patients and doctors need to be confident that recommendations about treatments are based on the best available scientific evidence. It’s equally important that the benefits and potential harms of treatments are explained to patients in a way that is simple to understand, not ‘hyped up’ and is meaningful to their personal situation.

Committed to improving information and support

At the BHF, we welcome these recommendations and remain absolutely committed to improving the information and support we provide for people living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK.

Read the full report