Which Providers Should Communicate Which Critical Information About a New Medication?

Patient, Pharmacist, and Physician Perspectives

Published In: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, v. 57, no. 3, Mar. 2009, p. 462-469

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2009

by Derjung M. Tarn, Debora A. Paterniti, Bradley R. Williams, Camille S. Cipri, Neil S. Wenger

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OBJECTIVES: To investigate older patient, pharmacist, and physician perspectives about what information is essential to impart to patients receiving new medication prescriptions and who should provide the information. DESIGN: Qualitative focus group discussions. SETTINGS: Senior centers, retail pharmacies, and primary care physician offices. PARTICIPANTS: Forty-two patients aged 65 and older, 13 pharmacists, and 17 physicians participated in eight focus groups. MEASUREMENT: Qualitative analysis of transcribed focus group interviews and consensus through iterative review by multidisciplinary auditors. RESULTS: Patient, pharmacist, and physician groups all affirmed the importance of discussing medication directions and side effects and said that physicians should educate about side effects and that pharmacists could adequately counsel about certain important issues. However, there was substantial disagreement between groups about which provider could communicate which critical elements of medication-related information. Some pharmacists felt that they were best equipped to discuss medication-related issues but acknowledged that many patients want physicians to do this. Physicians tended to believe that they should provide most new-medication education for patients. Patients had mixed preferences. Patients aged 80 and older listed fewer critical topics of discussion than younger patients. CONCLUSION: Patients, pharmacists, and physicians have incongruent beliefs about who should provide essential medication-related information. Differing expectations could lead to overlapping, inefficient efforts that result in communication deficiencies when patients receive a new medication. Collaborative efforts to ensure that patients receive complete information about new medications could be explored.

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