Patient involvement in medication safety in hospital: an exploratory study

Int J Clin Pharm. 2014 Jun;36(3):657-66. doi: 10.1007/s11096-014-9951-8. Epub 2014 Apr 29.


Background: Medication errors are common in hospital inpatients. While many interventions have been proposed to address these problems, few have been shown to have significant benefits. A complementary approach is to facilitate greater involvement of patients with their inpatient medication. However, there is relatively little research in this area and it is not known which interventions lead to improved healthcare outcomes. Work is therefore needed to investigate the roles that healthcare professionals and patients believe are appropriate for hospital inpatients to take relating to safety.

Objective: To explore the extent to which hospital inpatients reported that they engaged with medication safety-related behaviours, the extent to which they would like to, and the extent to which healthcare professionals reported that they would support such engagement.

Setting: An NHS hospital Trust in West London.

Methods: 100 Patients and healthcare professionals were recruited on ten wards within the Trust and invited to complete quantitative questionnaires. Data were analysed descriptively and exploratory comparisons made between different groups of respondents.

Main outcome measures: inpatient medication safety involvement scale and control preference scale for patient involvement in decision making.

Results: 100 patients (98 % response rate) and 104 healthcare professionals (59 % response rate) were recruited. The majority of patients and healthcare professionals were supportive of hospital inpatients being involved with their medication. However there was a significant gap between desire for patient involvement and what patients reported having experienced. Female patients and those under 65 wanted a significantly higher level of involvement than males and over 65s. Few associations were found between healthcare professionals' reported support for involvement and their profession or gender. However, pharmacists and nurses were significantly more likely to report supporting patients asking questions about their medicines and self administering their own medicines than doctors.

Conclusion: Healthcare professionals and patients desire a higher level of patient involvement with their medication while in hospital than patients currently report. Interventions need to be developed to bridge the gap between desired and actual patient involvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation / psychology*
  • Patient Safety*
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital / methods*
  • State Medicine