1. To supply culturally specific data regarding medicine use to supplement the pharmacoepidemiological data which indicates substantial differences in pharmaceutical consumption among the European countries.
2. To explore and develop a methodology for use in cross-cultural comparisons, since research about medicine use has not addressed this issue.
3. To provide information for health service policy makers and health educators.
Research questions rather than hypotheses were posed.
Pharmacoepidemiological data clearly show that the consumption of pharmaceutical products varies considerably among European countries, in spite of the fact that drug regulations have become increasingly uniform and that mortality and morbidity patterns are similar. Such data are often gathered from records provided by prescription and pharmaceutical sales. While they serve as indicators of variations in pharmaceutical consumption (in the economic sense), they do not include information about actual medicine use in the population under investigation.
Behavioural science research indicates that actual medicine use is determined not only by the structure of the official pharmaceutical market or the Cartesian model of biomedicine, and that it is not always 'rational' (on the part of either the prescriber or the final consumer). Attitudes about medicines are developed and expressed before adulthood; thus it was logical to focus on childhood as an important stage in the evolution of adult medicine use behaviour and children to act as the major participants in the study (as opposed to gathering data from only parents or paediatricians).
The present Concerted Action and multidisciplinary Project was designed to develop new methodological approaches for application in the study of actual medicine use in Europe (ie its goal was not to provide conclusive evidence, but rather to explore the merit of using various methods of data collection and to develop a new methodology).