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Meaning and Management of Multiple Medications Among Public Mental Health Service Users

Abstract

Public mental health service users frequently manage multiple health conditions, and are often prescribed multiple medications. While medications are useful tools in treating diagnosed mental illnesses, they bring management challenges and also can carry complex meanings for the individuals taking them. This study utilized a qualitative methodological approach to examine the experience and meaning of polypharmacy among public mental health services users. This sample of service users (n = 26) who were prescribed multiple medications described three distinct types of challenges they faced in managing medications: related to information, material tasks, and self-stigma. Nevertheless, respondents reported creative and resilient strategies to manage these challenges. Findings build on previous literature and reflect the increasing need to focus on challenges related to polypharmacy. Furthermore, findings indicate that low levels of literacy and high levels of material disadvantage, which are common among public mental health service users, complicate the management and meaning of multiple medications.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Literacy Project Steering Committee, including our Consumer Consulting Group. This work was supported by NIMH Grant 1R01MH096707-04 (PI: Alisa Lincoln).

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Correspondence to Alisa K. Lincoln.

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Scoglio, A.A.J., Adams, W.E. & Lincoln, A.K. Meaning and Management of Multiple Medications Among Public Mental Health Service Users. Community Ment Health J 56, 313–321 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-019-00491-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-019-00491-9

Keywords

  • Medication
  • Mental health
  • Stigma
  • Polypharmacy
  • Public mental health services