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.
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.