Prescription medicine sharing: Exploring patients' beliefs and experiences

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Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice


Background: Prescription medicine sharing has been defined as the lending of medicines (giving prescription medicines to someone else) or borrowing of medicines (being given and using a medicine prescribed for another person). This qualitative study explored the views of patients, to elicit information regarding factors influencing medicine sharing behaviours, their experiences of the consequences of prescription medicine sharing, and their risk assessment strategies when deciding to share. Methods: One-on-one, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were carried out in Auckland, New Zealand between September 2013 and August 2014 with 17 patients, purposively sampled to provide information from different socio-demographic backgrounds. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a general inductive approach. The study received ethical approval, and all interviewees provided written informed consent. Results: Findings were captured within five overarching themes: types of shared medicines; perceived benefits of sharing medicines; negative experiences of sharing; factors influencing sharing behaviours; and risk assessment strategies. Participants reported that sharing helped them to avoid treatment costs and the inconvenience associated with medical visits such as booking appointments. Conversely, unanticipated side effects, allergies, and taking inappropriate medicines were the main adverse consequences of sharing. Altruism, limited access to medicines/health services, sociocultural factors, and having unused prescription medicines were factors influencing sharing behaviours. Participants reported assessing the safety of sharing a medicine primarily based on symptom matching, past illness experiences, and knowledge about the medicines. Conclusions: This study enriches previous survey findings, by providing insight into patients' reasons for medicines sharing. Healthcare providers should consider asking their patients about any medicines they have shared and their future sharing intentions, in order to use the opportunity for discussing safer sharing practices, without promoting the behaviour. The findings are helpful for informing the development of potential interventions and targeted educational messages about safe medicine use for patients.



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