Using the Behaviour Change Wheel to explore potential strategies for minimising harms from non-recreational prescription medicine sharing

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Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy


Introduction: Non-recreational sharing of prescribed medicines can have positive outcomes under some circumstances, but can also result in negative health outcomes. This paper describes a theoretically underpinned and systematic approach to exploring potential interventions to reduce harm. Methods: Individual, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with purposively sampled pharmacists (n = 8), doctors (n = 4), nurses (n = 6) and patients (n = 17) from Auckland, New Zealand. Thematic analysis of suggested interventions was undertaken, and these were linked to relevant intervention functions of the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW). Analysis of previously defined factors influencing sharing were mapped onto the “Capability, Opportunity, Motivation – Behaviour” (COM-B) model of the BCW. Results: COM-B analysis of the factors influencing sharing behaviour revealed: (i) ‘Capability’-related factors, such as patient misconceptions about the safety of certain medicines, forgetting to refill or to carry around own medicines, and lack of knowledge about safe disposal of leftover/unused medicines; (ii) ‘Opportunity’-related factors included lack of access to health facilities, lack of time to see a doctor, linguistic and cultural barriers, lack of information from healthcare providers about risks of sharing, and having leftover/unused medicines, and (iii) ‘Motivation’-related factors included altruism, illness denial, embarrassment about seeing a doctor, not carrying around own medicines, habit, and fear of negative health consequences from missing a few doses of medicines. Five intervention functions of the BCW appear to be the most likely candidates for targeting the factors which relate to medicine sharing. These are education, persuasion, enablement, environmental restructuring and restriction. Conclusions: A variety of personal and external factors which influence sharing behaviours were identified, and the BCW provided a means by which theoretically underpinned interventions to reduce potential harms from this behaviour could be proposed. The findings can help with the design of approaches to reduce harm associated with non-recreational medicine sharing.

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