A cross-sectional survey of the Maltese general public on medication wastage

Int J Clin Pharm. 2016 Apr;38(2):261-70. doi: 10.1007/s11096-015-0233-x. Epub 2016 Jan 6.


Background: Medication wastage is a global issue, with key public health implications in terms of safety, the environment and the economy. A recently conducted systematic review of the published literature identified a lack of focus on the views of healthcare professionals and the general public.

Objective: To explore awareness, attitudes and behaviours relating to medication wastage amongst the general public in Malta.

Setting: Malta.

Method: Survey methodology employing a pre-piloted questionnaire was developed from theoretical frameworks of behaviour. Questionnaire items comprised open, closed and 5-point Likert scales. Medication adherence as a possible factor associated with wastage was measured using the 8-item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale. Random sample of 1920 was obtained from the Maltese electoral register 2013. Ethical approval was obtained.

Main outcome measures: Awareness, attitudes and behaviours relating to medication wastage amongst the general public in Malta.

Results: Response rate was 20.4 %. The majority (70.6 %) agreed that they were fully aware of the issue of wastage and 71.9 % disagreed that they had no interest in wastage. The following were significantly related to increased awareness of wastage: older age (p = 0.003), pensioners (p = 0.011), on regular medication (p = 0.021) and obtaining free medication (p = 0.026). Lack of interest in wastage was significantly related to obtaining free medication by government (p = 0.022), with those purchasing medication being significantly more interested (p = 0.028). While 75.1 % of respondents on regular medication self-reported not being fully adherent, there were no associations with awareness (p = 0.100) and interest in wastage (p = 0.385). Unemployed were more likely to report contribution towards wastage (p = 0.010) and the presence of a healthcare professional as family member was significantly related to confidence in ability to reduce wastage (p = 0.009). 46.2 % claimed to have unused medication at home and improvement in patient's medical condition was the main reason for this.

Conclusion: More effort is warranted to raise awareness of the public as an initial step in promoting behavioural change in relation to medication wastage.

Keywords: Adherence; Awareness; Behaviour; Malta; Medication wastage; Survey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Awareness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malta / epidemiology
  • Medication Adherence / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prescription Drugs*
  • Public Opinion*
  • Refuse Disposal / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Young Adult


  • Prescription Drugs