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The objectives of this study were to assess the prescribing of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by general practitioners and to determine their attitudes to problems caused by this class of drugs. The study consisted of two parts. The first was a questionnaire survey among general practitioners in Fife and Tayside, and the second was an analysis of NSAID prescribing over 12 months among the doctors in the Carnoustie Health Centre, using duplicate prescriptions. In the questionnaire survey 61% of the general practitioners responded. The three most preferred drugs were buprofen (56%), naproxen (20%) and mefenamic acid (7%); choice of drug was determined by efficacy and personal experience. Gastrointestinal side effects were most frequently encountered, although there was little consensus amongst respondents as to their management. The duplicate prescription study showed that 14% of patients (1607 individuals) received at least one NSAID prescription in the year of study. Ibuprofen (31%), naproxen (20%) and piroxicam (15%) were most frequently prescribed and up to 16% of the patients were co-prescribed a gastroprotective agent; ranitidine (75%) was the most commonly prescribed. Despite the introduction of newer NSAIDs, ibuprofen and naproxen are still the most commonly prescribed drugs. Furthermore, although gastrointestinal side effects are commonly encountered, there is some uncertainty about their management.