Perceptions of conflicting information about long-term medications: a qualitative in-depth interview study of patients with chronic diseases in the Swiss ambulatory care system

BMJ Open. 2023 Nov 8;13(11):e070468. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-070468.


Objective: Patients with multiple long-term conditions visit various healthcare professionals and are exposed to medication information from various sources causing an increased risk of patients perceiving contradictory medication information. The aims of this study are to: (1) characterise conflicting medication information perceived by patients with long-term conditions, (2) better understand the related impact on patients' medication self-management and healthcare system navigation and (3) explore ways in which such events could be prevented.

Design: This study was conducted through qualitative semistructured interviews. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Setting: Community pharmacies and medical centres in Geneva, Switzerland.

Participants: This study included outpatients from April 2019 to February 2020. Patients were included after participating in a quantitative survey of perceived conflicting information about medications for long-term diseases.

Methods: Semistructured audiotaped interviews of 20 to 60 min following a pre-established interview guide to explore participants' perceptions of conflicting information. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and a thematic analysis was conducted with inductive and deductive coding using MAXQDA (2018, Release 18.2.3).

Results: Twenty-two patients were interviewed, until data saturation, mentioning indication or need for a medication as the main topic of conflicting information between two healthcare professionals. Perceived conflicting information often resulted from insufficient information provided and poor communication leading to confusion, doubts and medication non-adherence. Patients expected more information and more interprofessional communication on their medications. As a result of conflicting information, most participants learnt or were learning to take an active role and become partners of the healthcare providers.

Conclusion: The need to strengthen and improve communication and interprofessional collaborative practice among healthcare professionals and with the patient is emerging to increase the quality and consistency of information about medications, and consequently, to ensure better use and experience of medications.

Keywords: Chronic Disease; GENERAL MEDICINE (see Internal Medicine); PRIMARY CARE; Patients; QUALITATIVE RESEARCH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland