Frail elderly patients' experiences of information on medication. A qualitative study

BMC Geriatr. 2012 Aug 22;12:46. doi: 10.1186/1471-2318-12-46.


Background: Older patients generally have only poor knowledge about their medicines. Knowledge is important for good adherence and for participating in decisions about treatment. Patients are entitled to be informed on an individual and adequate level. The aim of the study was to explore frail elderly patients' experiences of receiving information about their medications and their views on how the information should best be given.

Methods: The study was qualitative in design and was carried out in 2011. Twelve frail elderly (aged 68-88) participants taking cardiovascular medications participated in semi-structured interviews covering issues related to receiving information about prescribed medicines. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and subjected to content analysis, in which the text was analysed in five steps, inspired by Graneheim and Lundman.

Results: The results revealed that the experiences which the elderly participants had regarding the receiving of medical information fell into two main categories: "Comfortable with information" or "Insecure with information". The elderly felt comfortable when they trusted their physician or their medication, when they received enough information from the prescriber or when they knew how to find out sufficient information by themselves. They felt insecure if they were anxious, if the availability of medical care was poor or if they did not receive enough information.

Conclusions: Factors that frequently caused insecurity about information and anxiety were too short consultations, lack of availability of someone to answer questions or of the opportunity to contact the physician if adverse effects are suspected. These factors could easily be dealt with and there must be improvements in the clinics if the patients' feelings of security are to be increased.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards
  • Patient Medication Knowledge / methods*
  • Patient Medication Knowledge / standards
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Qualitative Research*