ASHP Identifies Consumer Views About Emergency Preparedness

August 8, 2003


The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and ICHP as its Illinois Affiliate work to help consumers make the best use of medicines. One specific area of concern to ASHP is how consumers can include medications important to their health in emergency preparations. This research was conducted to investigate the public's attitudes and behaviors related to emergency preparedness in general and in developing emergency plans for medications in particular.

A national omnibus phone survey of 1,014 randomly selected adults was conducted April 4-8, 2003.  The margin of error for the survey statistics is plus or minus three percentage points. The key findings of this survey are presented below.
  • The majority of respondents (80%) had not made any preparations for an emergency situation such as a terrorist attack.  Roughly one-fifth of the respondents (19%) had made emergency preparations.

  • Roughly half (52%) of respondents did not have an emergency plan for medications important to their or their family's health while a third of respondents said they had made such preparations (34%).

  • Nearly a third of respondents (30%) said it would be "Extremely Serious" or "Very Serious" if they or their immediate family members were without medications important to their health for three to five days because of an emergency.

  • Over half of all respondents (60%) said it was "Extremely Important" or "Very Important" to have an emergency plan for medications.

  • About a third of the respondents (36%) carried a list of medications important to their or their family's health with them in something like a purse, briefcase or wallet while nearly half (48%) did not.
    • Older respondents more often said they carry a list of medications than did younger respondents. Specifically, 55% of those aged 65 years or older kept a list of medications compared to 30% of those aged 18-34, 24% of those aged 35-44, 41% of those aged 45-54, and 33% of those aged 55-64.

  • A quarter of the respondents (25%) had stored an extra supply of medications important to their or their family's health in case of emergency while over half (58%) had not.
    • Respondents aged 65 or older (72%) more often said they did not store an extra supply of medications compared to all other age groups.

ASHP has developed a list of emergency preparedness tips that consumers should follow.  These include keeping a list of all medications you are taking in your wallet and storing 3-5 days of medications that are important to your health.  A full list can be found on

Consumers should ask their doctor or pharmacist if going without their medications for several days could result in severe illness or hospitalization.  If so, it is critical that individuals have a plan in place.

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