The prescribing of proton pump inhibitor (PPIs) drugs has increased by 456% in the past 4 yr, despite no evidence of increased morbidity for gastrointestinal conditions. There has been no full explanation for this dramatic increase. Doctors attribute the rapid and apparently unjustified increase in prescribing of this new and expensive drug to patients' demands and not to the extensive advertising campaign. This paper presents the findings from interviews with 20 patients who were taking PPIs. The results revealed that the prescribing of PPIs was mainly initiated in primary care, with little evidence of overt patient demand for PPIs, influenced by the media or social contacts. Patients' perceptions and beliefs about PPIs are explored and discussed. Patients modified the prescribed regimen to suit their perceived needs. Patients felt PPIs were more effective than other drugs they had tried previously and expressed their concerns about stopping PPIs, or changing to another drug. However, despite these reservations, the majority of patients interviewed said they would change if their general practitioner (GP) suggested it. PPIs led some patients to abandon, or not to attempt, lifestyle changes. The consequences of this and the implications of the continued prescribing of PPIs are discussed.
General PractitionerGastrointestinal and liver diseasesTreatment medicationBarriers and facilitators identified