Teaching kids about medication use


kids children medicine

Parents typically manage their children’s medication, but kids’ limited involvement may become problematic as they grow older, say researchers

The number of children diagnosed with chronic health conditions is increasing but a high percentage are struggling with medication adherence, according to pharmacy researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Pittsburgh, US.

Children typically report ‘forgetting’ as a main reason for medication non-adherence, which can lead to increased disease symptoms, hospital visits, morbidity and mortality rates, and healthcare costs.

Meanwhile use of technology is increasingly being used to improve medication adherence.

The researchers interviewed children aged 7-17 years taking one or more medications for a chronic condition, and their parents, to see whether a medication adherence app could help facilitate self-management.

They found that overall, children and parents were receptive to the use of adherence apps as an innovative approach to influencing medication use.

Most children desired to earn rewards for using a such an app, saying they would be more likely to use it if it included an incentive reward.

“I feel like it would just keep you more motivated to use it,” said one 11-year-old.

Children also desired a security function to protect their health information when using an adherence app.

“Sometimes if I’m mad at my brother, he could try to get in. So I think that’s important,” stated a 13-year-old participant.

Children wanted a medication adherence app that was personalised and tailored to their individual needs, such as current mood or pain level, and included a favourite colour or character.

They recommended presenting information using customisable and interactive graphics, and appealing colour schemes.

Children also recommended including easy-to-understand and relevant medication information on the app.

Parents stated they would encourage their child to use a medication adherence app due to their easy accessibility on a mobile device.

Such apps could help with understanding medicines, particularly as both kids and parents reported communicating with doctors and pharmacists could be a challenge.

“Increased child involvement in medical care can allow them to develop medication responsibility and knowledge regarding their chronic conditions,” said the researchers in their article published in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research.

But it’s not just up to technology – pharmacists have an important role to play too.

“Participants reported that healthcare professionals rarely involve children in medical conversations,” they said.

“Pharmacists, as medication experts who are easily accessible in the community, can educate children with chronic conditions on strategies to support long-term adherence.”

This includes reinforcement of proper medication use and demonstrating the correct use of medical devices.

“Furthermore, pharmacists can become familiar with available adherence apps to use them as a tool to potentially increase child engagement and self-management.”

Here are some top-rated medication management apps (although please note that these are not specified for use by children):

Pill Reminder and Medication Tracker by Medisafe
Available on both Google Play and the iTunes App Store
Free with in-app purchases
Get reminders for all your meds, times and displays your notes such as “take with food”

MedicineWise
Available on both Google Play and the iTunes App Store
Free
Easily keep track of medicines and access important health info anytime and anywhere, especially in emergencies.

MyTherapy Pill Reminder
Available on both Google Play and the iTunes App Store
Free
Combining a pill tracker, mood tracker and a health journal, e.g. with a weight tracker, this medication reminder app allows you and your doctor to put your treatment’s success into perspective.

Med Helper – Pill Reminder and Medication Tracker
Available on both Google Play and the iTunes App Store
Free with in-app purchases
Med Helper keeps track of your prescriptions, with alarms to remind you when medication needs to be taken, when Doctors appointments are scheduled and when meds are running low or are about to expire. Med Helper also tracks your vital signs and PRN / take-as-needed medication.

Do you know of any good medication management apps that you would recommend to patients, particularly to children? Let us know in the comments section below!

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