Aim: To determine patient's preferred sources of drug information and their attitudes to how this is provided.
Design: A quantitative evaluation via personal interviews using a formal questionnaire. SUBJECT AND SETTINGS: A group of 101 in-patients in a chest ward at the Royal Devon & Exeter Healthcare NHS Trust.
Outcome measures: Preferred sources for medication advice; personal involvement in own treatment; adequacy of consultation period; medication compliance; post discharge sources of drug information; recalled benefits and side effects of corticosteroids.
Results: Preferred source of drug information was: doctor (35%), pharmacist (11%) and nurse 4%. Sixty percent of patients wanted to be involved in the choice of their medication, thirty-nine percent leaving it totally to the doctor and one patient who wanted the final word in what was prescribed. Sufficient discussion time with GPs was reported by 66% of patients (12%, insufficient) and 53% with hospital doctors (19%, insufficient). Non-compliance with medication was reported by 66% and compliance by 24%. Medication advice sources used when at home were; community pharmacists (22%), GPs/books & magazines/specialist societies (all 18%), nurses (10%) and others less than 8%. Benefits of corticosteroids recalled by patients were: 'improving breathing' (14), 'general improvement' (9) and 'improved mobility'/'greater appetite' (both 5)' with little change' reported by 13. Knowledge of side effects was much more comprehensive with; oedema/weight gain (50), skin/hair problems (33), osteoporosis (33), bruising (12) and mood changes (10) most commonly featured in responses. Almost all patients confirmed they liked to be given printed information about their medication.
Conclusion: Patients sought their medication advice from a variety of sources and armed with this almost two thirds of patients wished to exercise their rights to be involved with their treatment planning. Sufficient discussion time appeared to be available to about half of the interviewees though only a few understood the intended benefits of prescribed corticosteroids used as an example in this work. A much better knowledge of drug side effects might have partly explained the high level of declared non-compliance. Although pharmacists featured as the preferred source of drug information for some patients, a much more detailed investigation is needed of patients' attitudes to the profession and to individuals' consultation and communication skills.