To determine prescription drug use, we asked residents, "Since beginning
your PGY [postgraduate year]–1 year, have you taken any prescription
medications, whether prescribed to you or not (eg, antibiotics, contraceptives,
antihypertensives, prescription-dose antiulcer drugs, prescription-strength
topical steroids and/or prescription inhalers)?" For each medication, we asked
residents to indicate the medication's duration, frequency, and indication.
In asking about who prescribed each medication, we were careful to distinguish
between recommending a medication and the various activities related to obtaining
it. For example, a physician caring for a medical resident might order or
recommend a medication, yet that resident might write the prescription, call
it in to a pharmacy, or obtain samples directly from a sample cabinet. Because
we were interested in learning about prescription medications that residents
decided to take on their own, we first asked, "Who provides you with care
for the condition indicated?" and we provided possible responses of (1) no
one (self); (2) fellow resident; (3) personal physician who sees me in an
office or a clinic; (4) other physician who gives me advice outside an office
visit or clinic; or (5) other. We then asked, "How did you obtain the medication?"
and provided possible responses of (1) clinician other than self wrote or
called in prescription to pharmacy or provided a sample; (2) self wrote or
called in prescription to pharmacy; (3) sample obtained personally from sample
closet; (4) sample obtained directly from pharmaceutical company representative;
or (5) other. Finally, to determine the prescriber of each medicine, we asked,
"Regardless of how this medication was obtained, who prescribed the medication?"
with possible responses of (1) individual listed in the first question; (2)
self; or (3) other.