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How much do elders with chronic conditions know about their medications?

Chan FW, et al. BMC Geriatr. 2013.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Patients with chronic diseases often undertake multiple medication regimes to manage their condition, prevent complications and to maintain their quality of life. A patient's medication knowledge has been defined as the awareness of drug name, purpose, administration schedule, adverse effects or side-effects and special administration instructions. Poor medication knowledge can have a negative impact on medication adherence and patient safety and, in increasing the use of medical resources. The objective of the study is to assess the medication knowledge of elderly patients with chronic disease conditions and the factors affecting this knowledge.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in patients aged ≥ 60 with chronic disease conditions or their caregivers were recruited from two general outpatient clinics and two medical outpatient clinics in the public sector. Participants were approached by trained interviewers to complete a semi-structured questionnaire to assess their understanding of the instructions and information relating to their regular medications, which included medication name, regimen, purpose and common side-effects and precautions.

RESULTS: A total of 412 patients were recruited with the mean age of 72.86 ± 7.70. Of those, 221 (54.2%) were male and 226 (55.4%) were of primary school educational level or below. The mean number of medications taken per patient was 3.75 ± 1.93. Overall, 52.7% of patients felt that healthcare staff or clinic pharmacists had very clearly explained the administration instruction of the prescribed medications whilst 47.9% had very clear explanations of drug purpose but only 11.4% felt they had very clear explanations of side-effects. 396 patients (96.1%) failed to recall any side effects or precautions of each of their prescribed medications, although 232 patients (58.4%) would consult a doctor if they encountered problems with their medications. Logistic regression analysis showed that for every additional medication prescribed, the likeliness of patients to recall side-effects of all the medications prescribed was significantly lowered by 35% (OR = 0.65; 95% CI = 0.44-0.94; P = 0.023). In addition, those who finished secondary school or higher education were likely to possess more knowledge of side-effects (OR = 9.88; 95% CI = 2.11-46.25; P = 0.004).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients who take medications for their chronic diseases generally lack knowledge on side-effects of their medications which could potentially affect medication compliance and medication safety.

PMID

23758824 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

PMCID

PMC3684528

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