Handling polypharmacy –a qualitative study using focus group interviews with older patients, their relatives, and healthcare professionals

BMC geriatrics(2023)

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Background On average, older patients use five or more medications daily. A consequence is an increased risk of adverse drug reactions, interactions, or medication errors. Therefore, it is important to understand the challenges experienced by the patients, relatives, and healthcare professionals pertinent to the concomitant use of many drugs. Methods We conducted a qualitative study using focus group interviews to collect information from patients, relatives, and healthcare professionals regarding older patients’ management of prescribed medicine. We interviewed seven patients using five or more medications daily, three relatives, three general practitioners, nine nurses from different healthcare sectors, one home care assistant, two hospital physicians, and four pharmacists. Results The following themes were identified: (1) Unintentional non-adherence, (2) Intentional non-adherence, (3) Generic substitution, (4) Medication lists, (5) Timing and medication schedule, (6) Medication reviews and (7) Dose dispensing/pill organizers. Conclusion Medication is the subject of concern among patients and relatives. They become confused and insecure about information from different actors and the package leaflets. Therefore, patients often request a thorough medication review to provide an overview, knowledge of possible side effects and interactions, and a clarification of the medication’s timing. In addition, patients, relatives and nurses all request an indication of when medicine should be taken, including allowable deviations from this timing. Therefore, prescribing physicians should prioritize communicating information regarding these matters when prescribing.
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Key words
Polypharmacy,Older people,Non-adherence,Adverse drug interactions,Medication errors,Experiences,Continuity of care,Focus group interviews,Qualitative research
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