Issues potentially affecting quality of life arising from long-term medicines use: a qualitative study
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Background Polypharmacy is increasing and managing large number of medicines may create a burden for patients. Many patients have negative views of medicines and their use can adversely affect quality of life. No studies have specifically explored the impact of general long-term medicines use on quality of life. Objective To determine the issues which patients taking long-term medicines consider affect their day-to-day lives, including quality of life. Setting Four primary care general practices in North West England Methods Face-to-face interviews with adults living at home, prescribed four or more regular medicines for at least 1 year. Interviewees were identified from primary care medical records and purposively selected to ensure different types of medicines use. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically. Results Twenty-one interviews were conducted and analysed. Patients used an average of 7.8 medicines, 51 % were preventive, 40 % for symptom relief and 9 % treatment. Eight themes emerged: relationships with health professionals, practicalities, information, efficacy, side effects, attitudes, impact and control. Ability to discuss medicines with health professionals varied and many views were coloured by negative experiences, mainly with doctors. All interviewees had developed routines for using multiple medicines, some requiring considerable effort. Few felt able to exert control over medicines routines specified by health professionals. Over half sought additional information about medicines whereas others avoided this, trusting in doctors to guide their medicines use. Patients recognised their inability to assess efficacy for many medicines, notably those used for prophylaxis. All were concerned about possible side effects and some had poor experiences of discussing concerns with doctors. Medicines led to restrictions on social activities and personal life to the extent that, for some, life can revolve around medicines. Conclusion There is a multiplicity and complexity of issues surrounding medicines use, which impact on day-to-day lives for patients with long-term conditions. While most patients adapt to long-term medicines use, others did so at some cost to their quality of life.
KeywordsEngland Medication management Patient-centred Pharmaceutical care Quality of life Qualitative research
Authors are grateful to Helen Roberts who assisted in identifying patients and to Rosie Auckland who conducted the interviews.
The study was funded by Liverpool John Moores University.
Conflicts of interest
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
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