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Patients want more information, decision input on medications used long-term

A new U.K. study on the burden of long-term medication on patients has found that many patients would like to have more information on the medications they are being prescribed, and to have more say in which brands are used.

Lead author Janet Krska, PhD, professor of clinical and professional practice at the University of Kent’s Medway School of Pharmacy in Chatham, U.K., carried out the research to investigate the factors that make long-term medicine use burdensome for patients.

“The drive to implement clinical guidelines is contributing to increasing medicines use across the country, but the impact of this on patients among healthcare professionals is not always considered. Our study suggests that it’s time for this to change,” said Dr. Krska, in a press release.

She and her colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study of patients presenting prescriptions at pharmacies or awaiting appointments at GP practices or outpatient clinic from Oct. 2015 to Dec. 2016. The sample group, consisting of adults using at least one regular medicine, were asked to complete the Living with Medicines Questionnaire V3 (LMQ-3). This questionnaire, developed by Dr. Krska and two colleagues, consists of 41 statements rated on a five-point scale, with higher scores representing greater burden. There was also a visual analogue scale for self-reporting of overall perceived burden—VAS-burden.

A subsample of participants were asked for access to their medication records, for the purpose of calculating the complexity of their medication regimen.

Dr. Krska and her colleague found that individuals taking the highest number of medicines for the most times a day experienced the greatest impact—with many being concerned about side effects. However, they also found that older patients—who typically use more medicines—reported that they felt taking regular medications was less burdensome than younger patients did.

Published in Health and Social Care in the Community (July 30, 2018, online ahead of print), the study also revealed that more than one-quarter of surveyed patients wanted more information on their medications and a greater say in the brands of medications they use. A similar proportion was concerned about paying for their medication.

More than half of respondents were concerned about long-term adverse effects.

Approximately 11% of surveyed patients were dissatisfied with the effectiveness of their medications.

Some 30% agreed that their life revolved around medications, with approximately 25% reporting they felt they could decide whether to use their treatments or not.

Some patients said they did not feel they were being heard: 16% said they did not feel their doctor listened to their opinion on medications, and 11% said their doctor did not take their concerns about side effects seriously.

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