Self-care of Minor Ailments
How CHIC educates customers to recognise and treat minor ailments:
self-medication made safe.
The Consumer Health Information Centre
The Consumer Health Information Centre (CHIC) is an initiative
run by PAGB and advised by an independent panel of GPs, pharmacists,
nurses and consumer representatives. It aims to help consumers
increase their understanding of common ailments and gain confidence
in their recognition of, and ability to treat, these conditions.
Campaigns run by CHIC to date have, included the annual Cold and
Flu campaign, De-Stress not Distress, Mens Health and Pain and
Over the coming months, CHIC will be encouraging consumers to
think about other conditions and situations where they may want
to self-medicate; these will include Upper Gl Ailments and Lower
GI Ailments, Skin and Scalp Problems and Allergies.
Pain and Pain Relief
Pain and Pain Relief campaign was launched in May 2000 and included
leaflets for consumers that were distributed through GP's surgeries,
pharmacies and libraries, and offers made direct to the consumer
via radio programmes and features in women's magazines and the
consumer press generally. Other elements of the programme were
the addition of a new section to the CHIC website on 'Pain and
Pain Relief' (www.chic.org.uk),
and an intensive media campaign. As with previous campaigns, CHIC
worked with other organisations such as the DPP, NPA, RCN and
RPSGB to gain endorsement of the main messages.
CHIC believes that it is important to give the facts about minor
illnesses in simple language and in a way that is easy to understand
- all leaflet copy is checked by the Plain English Campaign, once
it has been approved by the CHIC panel of experts. Explanations
will be given as to why the problem has occurred in the first
place. What can be done in the future to prevent a reoccurrence
and the most effective way to treat the condition. In addition
to recommending an OTC medicine to treat the condition, CHIC will
always suggest a non- medical treatment where it is appropriate
and will also recommend that the consumer should consult their
pharmacist about the best remedy for their ailment if they are
in any doubt as to what to do.
For the Pain and Pain Relief campaign, CHIC is talking about
the definition and various types of pain, such as the difference
between acute and chronic pain. Ways of 'beating' pain, other
than with medication, are discussed and explanations given as
to how the main types of OTC pain relief work, including which
one is most appropriate for which type of pain. There is a section
on Childhood Pain and one on Precautions and Side-effects.
PAGB was an active member of the Year 2000 Pharmaceutical Alliance,
which was formed to represent all pharmaceutical interests and
ensure easy access to effective and appropriate services and products
in the run up to, and beyond the Millennium.
The '99/00 CHIC Ebenezer Sneezer Colds and Flu campaign persuaded
consumers that it made sense to stock up in advance with a few
OTC medicines such as analgesics, sore throat remedies, decongestants
and cough linctuses, so that the symptoms of coughs, cold and
flu could be treated easily and effectively at home. This echoed
the overall theme of the NHS campaign which was designed to encourage
consumers to use healthcare services wisely and appropriately.
of the CHIC initiative on Colds and Flu was made in the NHSE's
'Silver Bullet' publication, which was distributed to all UK Pharmacies,
GP practices, NHS Trusts, Health Authorities and patient representative
groups. In addition, the CHIC Colds and Flu website, giving suggestions
for a wisely stocked 'winter' home medicine chest, was one of
the few to be included in the list of useful contacts given by
Home Medicine Chests
Carrying on with this theme of 'being prepared', CHIC is now
developing suggested lists of OTC medicines that different people
might want to consider for their home medicine chests at different
stages of their lives. PAGB's own research (1) shows that people
are more likely to self-treat if they have something already in
The information given will focus on three areas:
- OTC medicines to treat common minor illnesses that most people
experience from time to time, such as colds and flu, headache
and skin abrasions
- OTC medicines to treat problems that certain people may experience
from time to time, such as indigestion, muscle pain, allergies
and stomach upsets
- OTC medicines that treat particular problems specific to (but
not necessarily limited to) age, sexes or lifestyle.
In the first, core category - medicines for common minor illnesses
that most people may experience from time to time, suggestions
for the home medicine chest will include the following:
- Oral pain relief i.e. aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol or
any combination that may contain one of the above and an opioid
analgesic, such as codeine or dihydrocodeine
- Topical pain relief in the form of sprays, mousses and gels
- Cold relief decongestants in spray, drop, capsule or tablet
form and combination products containing pain relievers and
decongestants in various formulations
- Cough preparations, in liquid and lozenge formulations, suppressants
- Sore throat medicines pastilles, lozenges and sprays or gargles
that may contain a local anaesthetic or antiseptic
- Antiseptics creams, solutions and ointments.
In the second category - OTC medicines to treat problems that
certain people may experience from time to time - information
will be given on:
- Indigestion remedies, explaining the differences between
antacids, alginates and H2 antagonists
- Hayfever/allergy relief, listing the different formulations,
including antihistamines and hydrocortisone, etc.
- Antidiarrhoeal preparations, covering the different formulations
and the importance of oral rehydration
- Cold Sore treatments, explaining the different functions of
the various products available
- Antifungals, for example, for treating athlete's foot.
third category - OTC medicines that treat particular problems
that may be specific to (but not necessarily limited to) age,
sex or lifestyle - will include advice on some of the following
- Hangover remedies
- Spot/acne preparations
- Skin and scalp treatments
- Constipation remedies
- Haemorroidal Preparations
- Cystitis relief
- Teething gels
- Nappy rash treatments
- Sunscreen products
- Travel sickness pills
- Insect bite treatments
- Smoking cessation products
Guidelines for self-treating safely
will always remind consumers of the following:
- Keep all medicines in a secure place, out of sight and reach
of small children and preferably where an adult can keep an
eye on them, for example, in the kitchen
- Keep all medicines in their original container and take precautions
to avoid them being affected by heat or humidity
- Always read and follow the instructions on the packet, do
not exceed the stated dose or the stated treatment period
- Do not use or keep medicines past their sell-by date
- Always check with your GP or pharmacist before taking an OTC
medicine if you are pregnant or already taking any prescription
||The CHIC Advisory Panel
The Advisory Panel of experts is central to the educational
function of all CHIC campaigns and all copy has to be approved
by them before being disseminated to the public.
The panel is chaired by:
Tina Funnell - past chair of the National Eczema Society
and the LMCA, Organising
Secretary to the Health Coalition Initiative and independent
promoting the patient's perspective.
Other members are:
Dr Ian Banks - practising GP, chair of the BMA's working
group on Men's Health, Board Member of the NHS Direct Healthcare
Professor Alison Blenkinsopp - Director of Education and
Research, Department of
Pharmacy Education and Practice, Keele University.
Dr Jim Kennedy - Senior Lecturer in Primary Care and Public
Health, Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals.
Ros Meek - former Health Visitor, now Sponsorship and Promotions
Director at the
Royal Colleges of Nursing.
Dr Catti Moss - practising GP and a member of the RCGP's
Patient Liaison Group.
Kate Pattle - Practice Nurse at Lambeth Walk Group Practice,
part of the Department
of General Practice of GKT School of Medicine.
Dr Paul Stillman - practising GP and medical broadcaster.
Dr Patricia Wilkie - former chair of the Patient's Association
and a social scientist.
Gerald Zeidman - community pharmacist and chairman of the
Janice Langley - member of the National Federation of Women's
Institutes Public Affairs working group.
(1) BMRB Everyday Lifestyle Study,