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Poll reveals patients' lax attitudes to medicines


New research has revealed high levels of carelessnesss when it comes to taking medicine, with many people putting their lives at risk.

A poll for the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) reveals that large numbers of people have lax attitudes towards medication. Almost one third of those surveyed thought it was acceptable to take over-the-counter medicines that a pharmacist had specifically recommended for someone else.

Nurses play a vital role in ensuring patients understand the risk posed by medicines, and they are needed to combat dangerous myths - for example, many people believed that if the dose was reduced, it was safe to give adult medicine to children.

The poll of 1,000 people also revealed that one in five condoned occasionally coming off medicines for a long-term condition like diabetes or asthma in order to cleanse their bodies.

Leyla Hannbeck, head of information at the NPA, said: “We are especially concerned that people with long-term conditions may feel it is right to ‘detox’ from time to time by taking a break from their prescribed medicines.

“For someone with, say, asthma, diabetes or depression, the result of doing so can be catastrophic.”

The research also highlighted a lack of basic medicinal knowledge - a quarter erroneously believed that aspirin was simply a weaker version of ibuprofen.


Readers' comments (8)

  • michael stone

    Not surprising, really. But stopping medication for diabetes, depression, etc is surely something whoever prescribed the medication, should have stressed is a very bad idea ?
    So are we being told that patients do not listen, or are patients not being told in the first place ?

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  • This doesn't surprise me at all. I regularly get people telling me they've taken granny's tramadol for toothache or tried grandad's water tablet because they felt water logged. People either weaning off medications or stopping them for a while/holiday really isn't that unusual at all. As for diabetic meds for some people its all just about being pragmatic.
    I don't know that the medical profession has been great in the past in giving enough info about the risks and consequences if stopping meds. I do believe however that now people are making their own decisions about how they manage their own health. Sometimes this coincides with medical advice and sometimes it doesn't. As long as people have the info to be able to make those decisions then that is all we can do.

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  • Anonymous | 8-Nov-2011 4:36 pm I disagree slightly with you on the medical/Nursing professions not giving out enough information, I think we could give out all the information in the world sometimes and STILL people don't always listen. Head. Brick. Wall. Take abx as just one very basic example, it is always stressed that the FULL course must be taken as prescribed, yet I have lost count of how many people stop taking them whenever they feel better or they forget or can't be bothered any more.

    I do agree with you that at the end of the day it is always the patients choice whether they want to comply or not, but then who has to pick up the pieces when they don't, or perhaps more importantly, who gets the blame when their condition worsens? Invariably, it is us.

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  • Sure mike there will always be people who don't listen, or can't, for a number of reasons. I've even been one of them in the past! I think one of the reasons people don't 'comply' (sounds a bit borg to me that word) is that the understanding is not there, but rather an instruction. We may have to pick up the pieces, yes, but that is not the end of the world and not necessarily a reflection on us as professionals. If we document our actions then there is a paper trail to illustrate what has happened rather than an instrument of blame. I think we have to be very careful in watching what our agenda is in this rather than what is in the patient's interest

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 8-Nov-2011 10:26 pm

    'I think one of the reasons people don't 'comply' (sounds a bit borg to me that word) is that the understanding is not there, but rather an instruction.'

    My first post, could have been taken as 'patients are not ordered to ...' but I am 100% with you: it should be an explanation of the consequences of stopping the medication, not 'just an instruction'.

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  • George Kuchanny

    My take on this is possibly quite controversial. It is not much to do with increasing the nannying of people as much as the sheer overestimates most people make of their own intellectual capacity. They think they understand when they do not. Moreover they are too lazy to investigate their own condition for themselves. It is their life. Their one and only life. So just how lazy is that? In my view very lazy and incredibly hubristic about their own intellectual capacity.

    A good cure for the above is (bit technical this) a size 10 hobnailed boot up the jaxi three times a day until compliance is understood.

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  • George, that, if you are serious, would make you a bully then!

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  • George - lol

    When I come across patients who are not compliant with their medication regimes, usually I do find it is because they don't understand the possible danger they are putting themselves in. However there are those who believe they know best and no amount of information can change their belief. Unfortunately we do have to pick up the pieces but, hopefully, lessons are learnt on both sides.

    Speaking of information, how many GPs continue to dole out benzodiazepines and anxiolytic medication on repeat prescription without any reviews, this is another topic yes, but shows that medication prescribing is not monitored and we rely on the patients to "do as they are told".

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