Background and objective: Access to medicines by young people with chronic conditions during the school day and suitable environments and support in the administration of a range of dosage forms may be required for optimal clinical management. Whilst Government policy emphasizes that children and young people with chronic illness should be able to lead as normal lives as possible, there is only limited evidence on the experiences and concerns of young people and their parents regarding the use of medicines at school and the impact on school life. The objective of this study was to examine the experiences and concerns of young people with chronic conditions, and their parents/carers, in managing medication at school.
Methods: Data were gathered in audio-recorded face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 27 young people (5-18 years) and their parents attending out-patient clinics at a major London teaching hospital. Open-ended questions provided an opportunity for participants to describe experiences and views in the context of their activities, priorities and concerns and enabled a qualitative analysis.
Results and discussion: The findings indicated that storage and access of medicines did not present major problems for young people receiving regular medication. However, those receiving medication on a 'when required' basis reported barriers to access. The most common concern regarding taking medication was lack of privacy, which sometimes led to non-adherence. Adverse effects of medication were highlighted as a cause of both non-adherence and poorer school performance. Extracurricular activities such as school trips were not viewed as presenting a problem by those who were interviewed. However, this was often because young people and their families devised their own strategies regarding the use of medicines that did not depend on the input of staff. There was wide variation in responses about the support young people received from school staff, with evidence of helpful and unhelpful practice. The potential benefits of liaison between schools and health professionals to assist schools in their support of students with their medicines were highlighted.
Conclusion: This study has identified medication-related issues from the perspective of young people and their parents, indicating ways in which their needs might be served more sensitively and effectively.