A qualitative exploration of healthcare providers’ perspectives on patients’ non-recreational, prescription medicines sharing behaviours

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Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research


Background: Prescription medicine sharing has been associated with several negative health outcomes. Much of the research has focused on patient perspectives. In this study we explore the views and experiences of health professionals involved in medicines supply. Aim: To explore healthcare providers’ experiences of, and attitudes toward, factors influencing non-recreational, prescription medicine-sharing behaviours, the consequences of sharing, and the types of prescription medicines they believe patients commonly share. Methods: Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted with purposively sampled pharmacists (n = 8), doctors (n = 4) and nurses (n = 6) practising in a variety of community or hospital settings in Auckland, New Zealand. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a general inductive approach. Results: Responses fell within three overarching themes: ‘perceived benefits of medicine sharing’ such as saving time and money, and strengthening social relationships; ‘perceived negative consequences of sharing’ such as drug resistance, adverse drug events, delay in seeking professional help, and loss of medicine instructions; ‘reasons for medicine sharing’ such as inadequate medication knowledge, forgetfulness, altruistic reasons, lack of access to health services or medicines, illness denial and embarrassment, and cultural and linguistic barriers. Conclusions: Prescription medicine sharing, as viewed by healthcare providers, is a multidimensional behaviour with both positive and negative outcomes. Any intervention to reduce the risks/harms of medicine sharing should consider both the healthcare system constraints and the psychosocial, cultural, economic and behavioural aspects of medicine use. The findings can be used to inform development of specific interventions to reduce risks/harms of sharing.

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