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Occasional users of medicines—including prescription, OTC and alternative medicines— are less likely to take them correctly

Findings from a new survey have shown that patients who take medicines less often or who take fewer medicines are more likely to stop a course of medicine early – without speaking to the health professional that prescribed or recommended the medicine to them.

They are also less likely to follow instructions relating to their medicines, the survey, released for Be Medicinewise Week (22-28 August), revealed.

The survey—conducted for NPS MedicineWise by Galaxy Research—indicated that while nearly one in six people (15%) don’t take their medicine as instructed, this is more common in those who are younger, those who take medicines less than daily and those who take fewer medicines. 

Of all respondents, 15% do not take their medicines as instructed, for example missing doses or using leftover medicines from a previous prescription.

In those who take medicines less often than daily, this figure rises to 28%, and in those who take only one medicine per week it is 20%.

Meanwhile 19% of those who take two to four medicines per week don’t always take their medicine as instructed.

Almost a quarter (24%) of people aged 18-24 and 25-34 don’t always take their medicines as instructed, compared to 17% of 35-49 year olds, 10% of 60-64 year olds and 3% of those aged 65+.

More than one in three (36%) people surveyed stopped their course of medicine early, but this was also more common in those who are younger, those who take medicines less than daily and those who take fewer medicines.

The younger age group of 18-34 year olds are more likely (45%) than 35-49 year olds (36%) and those 50 years and older (29%) to have stopped a medicine early without first speaking to the health professional that prescribed or recommended the medicine to them.

NPS MedicineWise medical adviser Dr Jeannie Yoo says that becoming “medicinewise”—and in particular, asking the right people for information about medicines, and then following the right advice—is important even for people who do not take medicines often.

Dr Yoo says that while there are sometimes good reasons to stop taking a medicine, before stopping consumers need to first speak with a doctor, pharmacist or nurse.

“‘Even though you might be feeling better, if you don’t feel a medicine is helping you it’s always a good idea to speak to health professionals first to check that it is safe to stop the medicine,” Dr Yoo advised Australians, pointing out that some regular medicines need to be stopped slowly or  replaced by another medicine to prevent serious effects.

“Taking your medicine as instructed—including taking the right dose at the right time—is also really important to help you improve your health outcomes,” she says.

Be Medicinewise Week is on from 22-28 August 2016 with the theme “Take Charge!”. To find out more go to www.nps.org.au/bmw2016.

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