During the Action Programme's operational and country support work the need to learn from and share other countries' and organizations' experience in the area of public educationa in Rational Drug Use30 became evident; yet regular searches of the published literature revealed little information. However, it was apparent from informal channels of communication and the Action Programme's own country work and global contacts, that many unpublished interventions were taking place. The DAP Informal Consultation on Public Education in Rational Drug Use strongly endorsed and supported the need for a comprehensive review of existing activities, both to provide guidelines for future educational programmes and to identify needs for future research and evaluation studies.
a Public education (in rational drug use) includes: patient instruction at the time of illness in the appropriate use of prescribed/dispensed drugs and instruction of the public at large, or specific target groups, in the principles and practical application of appropriate drug use, including non-drug therapies.
It was therefore decided to conduct a global survey that would commence with a search through standard data bases, complemented by an attempt to access information on projects which had not been published (grey literature) or which had not been documented. The objectives were to identify:
• the type and rationale of public education activities undertaken;
• how activities are planned, implemented and evaluated; success ratings, including the relative cost/benefit of different approaches;
• facilitating and constraining factors encountered;
• implementing and supporting organizations and bodies;
• areas which require further investigation and/or support;
• how work can best be taken forward.
The study aimed to obtain structured information, and examples of materials, which could later be synthesized, evaluated, and contribute to the development of training and resource materials.
The Global Survey was also intended to provide the framework for an international information base on public drug education programmes, which would allow DAP to significantly strengthen its collaboration in this area within WHO and with other agencies and partners.