International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 261–270 | Cite as

A cross-sectional survey of the Maltese general public on medication wastage

  • Lorna Marie WestEmail author
  • Lesley Diack
  • Maria Cordina
  • Derek Stewart
Research Article


Background Medication wastage is a global issue, with key public health implications in terms of safety, the environment and the economy. A recently conducted systematic review of the published literature identified a lack of focus on the views of healthcare professionals and the general public. Objective To explore awareness, attitudes and behaviours relating to medication wastage amongst the general public in Malta. Setting Malta. Method Survey methodology employing a pre-piloted questionnaire was developed from theoretical frameworks of behaviour. Questionnaire items comprised open, closed and 5-point Likert scales. Medication adherence as a possible factor associated with wastage was measured using the 8-item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale. Random sample of 1920 was obtained from the Maltese electoral register 2013. Ethical approval was obtained. Main outcome measures Awareness, attitudes and behaviours relating to medication wastage amongst the general public in Malta. Results Response rate was 20.4 %. The majority (70.6 %) agreed that they were fully aware of the issue of wastage and 71.9 % disagreed that they had no interest in wastage. The following were significantly related to increased awareness of wastage: older age (p = 0.003), pensioners (p = 0.011), on regular medication (p = 0.021) and obtaining free medication (p = 0.026). Lack of interest in wastage was significantly related to obtaining free medication by government (p = 0.022), with those purchasing medication being significantly more interested (p = 0.028). While 75.1 % of respondents on regular medication self-reported not being fully adherent, there were no associations with awareness (p = 0.100) and interest in wastage (p = 0.385). Unemployed were more likely to report contribution towards wastage (p = 0.010) and the presence of a healthcare professional as family member was significantly related to confidence in ability to reduce wastage (p = 0.009). 46.2 % claimed to have unused medication at home and improvement in patient’s medical condition was the main reason for this. Conclusion More effort is warranted to raise awareness of the public as an initial step in promoting behavioural change in relation to medication wastage.


Adherence Awareness Behaviour Malta Medication wastage Survey 



The authors acknowledge those who completed the questionnaire. Approval to use this scale and its equivalent Maltese translation was sought and obtained from Professor Donald Morisky (owner of this scale).


The research work carried out, is fully funded by the Malta Government Scholarship Scheme.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest. This study formed part of the author’s submission for Ph.D. The scholarship had no influence on study design, conduction, analysis, interpretation or writing of this article.


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Copyright information

© Koninklijke Nederlandse Maatschappij ter bevordering der Pharmacie 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorna Marie West
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lesley Diack
    • 1
  • Maria Cordina
    • 2
  • Derek Stewart
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social CareRobert Gordon UniversityAberdeenUK
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine and SurgeryUniversity of MaltaMsidaMalta

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