NPR/Kaiser/Harvard Survey — Children’s OTC Cold Medicines: The Public, and Parents, Weigh In

This survey from NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health examines the public’s views of over-the-counter children’s cold and cough medications in the wake of recent concerns regarding their safety and effectiveness. The poll was conducted after an FDA advisory panel recommended that children under the age of six not be given these medicines.

Reflecting the lack of formal consensus on the issue among government and outside experts, the survey finds that many parents are uncertain about whether to use the medicines for their young children in the future and are talking about the issue with other parents, pediatricians, and pharmacists.

Other issues addressed in the poll include the reasons why parents report using over-the-counter cold and cough medicines for their kids; parents’ views about the effectiveness of these drugs; whether pharmaceutical companies have implemented adequate testing procedures for these medications; and how opinions about drug safety have changed over the past several years. NPR is reporting on the poll’s findings in its news coverage.

A nationally representative sample of 1,522 adults, including an oversample of parents with young children, participated in telephone interviews from Nov. 15-25. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample, and plus or minus 5 percentage points for parents with young children.

This survey is part of a series of projects about health-related issues by NPR, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Representatives of the three organizations worked together to develop the survey questionnaire and to analyze the results, with NPR maintaining editorial control over its broadcasts on the surveys.

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