Achieving good compliance with medicines can be difficult, particularly in children in whom the formulation used can be of great importance. Palatability of medicines is vitally important, with the taste of a medicine a factor which can influence compliance. This study sought to explore taste preferences for liquid formulations in school-aged population and to investigate whether they actually like the flavours that are commonly used in medicines (strawberry, banana).
270 primary school aged children (age 3 – 11 years) and 162 secondary school children (age 13 – 14 years) took part in the study. A cross sectional mixed methods approach was used and consisted of a group administered paper questionnaire facilitated verbally and visually, containing qualitative and quantitative structured sequential questions. Each group of children was first asked to choose their favourite flavour for a medicine without being given a list of choices (‘free choice’). They were then asked to choose their favourite flavour from a pre-defined list of flavours (‘list’).
Data were analysed according to age groups stipulated by the British National Formulary for Children (ages 7-11 years, 13-14 years). The 5 – 6 most popular choices were ranked and expressed separately for different age groups.
Children report their favourite flavours differently dependent on how they are asked the question and how old they are. The popular choices of strawberry and banana in the ‘free choice’ answers may simply reflect previous experience of medicines with these flavours. Although other flavours emerge when given a broad list of options from which to choose their favourite flavour (chocolate, cola and bubble gum), strawberry remains the most popular flavour.