Read the Label: Students Work Toward a Better Understanding
This is part of a mini-series highlighting student research that was presented in the University of Findlay’s 2021 Symposium for Scholarship and Creativity (SSC).
When faced with minor aches, allergies, or the common cold, many people will reach for over-the-counter (OTC) medications to get some relief. But how much do young adults really know about what they’re taking?
As part of the University of Findlay’s Symposium for Scholarship and Creativity, students Rusty Zahn, Rebecca Turek, Jeremy Trapp, Beth Staley, and David Ohlin researched, “the ability of college-aged students at the University of Findlay to read an over-the-counter OTC medication label appropriately.” Pharm.D. candidate David Ohlin said, “We decided on our research project because research has suggested that college-aged students do not know how to properly read an over-the-counter medication label. We thought it would be interesting to see what the trend was at the University of Findlay and brainstorm ways on how to improve this barrier.”
The students’ poster presentation “Over-The-Counter Label Literacy in College Students,” stated, “It is pivotal for school-aged children, college students, as well as adults to properly be able to read an OTC medication label so that they can properly take the desired medication appropriately… The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that an estimated 58,546 Emergency Room visits were caused by adolescents self-administering OTC medications.”
“With the increasing usage of OTC medications, there are potential dangers involved,” said Ohlin. “These dangers include overdosing on a particular medication due to not knowing how to properly take the desired medication, as well as not properly storing it. If people are taught how to take these medications properly, the risk of adverse effects would decrease exponentially.”
While the results of the study showed that most college students are able to understand OTC medication labels, the students found that there was a large knowledge gap between certain student groups. Ohlin mentioned, “Throughout this research process, we learned that there is a barrier between health professions majors and non-health professions majors when it comes to reading OTC labels properly.” It was noted that students in various pharmacy and health professions were able to better comprehend labels and the research questions due to their prior knowledge of medications.
The students involved in this project not only gained insight to their peers, but they also learned valuable skills along the way. “Research in general, to us, means opportunities for growth,” said Ohlin. “Research allows students like ourselves to look into a problem and brainstorm ways to improve that problem so we can better the wellbeing of people around us in the future.”
For more information on the SSC, or to view other projects and presentations from this year, visit the Virtual Symposium for Scholarship and Creativity 2021 webpage.