NPC Archive Item: Medicines information needs of patients: the relationship between information needs, diagnosis and disease

NOTE – This is an archive post from the NPC and has not been updated since first publication. Therefore, some hyperlinks may no longer be working.

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This blog looks at the findings of a study published in Quality and Safety in Health Care by C Duggan and I Bates (Quality and Safety in Health Care, 2008;17:85-89).

What is the background to this?
Healthcare professionals are increasingly aware of the importance of providing patients with relevant information about the medication they are prescribed. This is important not only because it allows patients to identify possible adverse reactions to their medication in a timely manner, but also because it allows patients to be involved in an informed way in the decisions relating to their own healthcare. This study looks at people with different long term conditions together with other demographics to identify if there are any differences between these groups and the information they feel they require about the medicines they are prescribed.1717 people were interviewed as part of this study either during a hospital stay or whilst attending a specific clinic as an outpatient.

The study’s authors suggest that the amount of information a person feels they need is significantly influenced by the long term condition they have. There was also some evidence that the socio-demographic background of an individual can influence their information needs, although there is an acknowledgement that further study would be required on this.

How does this relate to other publications or evidence?
The authors state that their findings concur with previous research into patients’ information requirements about their medicines and reference some other relevant studies.

So what?
The findings of this study show the importance for healthcare professionals to view patients as individuals when providing information about their medicines. The long term condition a person has together with their socio-demographic background means that the information provided to them about their medicines will need to be personalised.

The study states that it is important for healthcare professionals to identify and understand that patients with different diseases have different desires for information about their disease and their drugs. This may influence the way they take their medicines and subsequently the way their long term condition is managed. Not all patients with a particular long tem condition prescribed a particular medicine will require the same information. Providing each patient with standardised information may not be useful therefore, the information should be personalised to match each person’s needs.

Item details
Duggan C, Bates I. Medicine information needs of patients: the relationships between information needs, diagnosis and disease. Quality and Safety in Health Care 2008;17:85-89
(accessed online 10th July 2008).

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