Patients are being urged to report side-effect information directly to the government agency responsible for medicine safety.
A study by Nottingham University Medical School found that patients gave much more detailed accounts when outlining side effects, compared with the descriptions provided by people with NHS jobs.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) runs a Yellow Card Scheme, which monitors the safety of the medicines and vaccines.
Researchers believe patient contributions to the scheme will help the MHRA build a more accurate picture of what drugs and treatments work most effectively and which ones are problematic.
Study leader Tony Avery said: "Patients filling in their own reports explain the side-effects in their own words and often provide more detail than healthcare professionals. Suggesting that patients consider filling in a yellow card may help to indicate that their symptoms are being taken seriously.
"Also, patients may be motivated by the idea of providing information that will help improve understanding of side-effects."