Objective: To determine the effect of an inpatient self-medication program (SMP) on the ability to self-medicate, patient medication knowledge, compliance, and patient morale.
Design: Randomized controlled clinical trial.
Population: One hundred seven consecutive patients admitted to a geriatric assessment and rehabilitation program were randomized to either participate in the SMP or to receive standard care.
Intervention: The SMP was a three-stage program in which patients were given increasing responsibility for the administration of their own medications.
Measurements: Ability to self-medicate on discharge from hospital; medication compliance at 1 month; patient medication knowledge; Philadelphia Morale Scale.
Main results: Participation in the self-medication program did not increase the proportion of patients who were able to self-medicate on discharge from hospital. Compliance was improved by the program. On a proportional basis, the self-medication group made significantly fewer medication errors than the control group at 1-month follow-up (0.045 vs 0.086, P < .001). There were no significant differences in morale or medication knowledge between the SMP and control groups, although both groups made significant gains in knowledge about the names, administration times, and purposes of their medications from admission to follow-up (P < .001).
Conclusions: A SMP can improve compliance in geriatric patients who are discharged to the community. Participation in a SMP does not improve patients' morale nor does it improve their medication knowledge more than pharmacy counselling alone. Participation in a SMP is unlikely to increase the probability that patients will be able to self-medicate on discharge. Cognitive factors limit patients' ability to self-medicate.