A qualitative study exploring medicines use pattern and practice among general public in Malaysia

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Drug Utilization, Medication Adherence, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Qualitative Research, Malaysia


Objective: The objective of this study is to explore the pattern and practice of medicine use among the general public; and to explore the key factors influencing medicine use among medicine users.

Methods: A qualitative approach using focus group discussions was conducted to get in-depth information about medicines use pattern and practice from the general public. Adult people who reported using medicines at the time of study or in the previous month were approached. Two focus group discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The obtained data were analysed using thematic content analysis.

Results: This study found that there are some misunderstanding about the appropriate use of medicines. The majority of the participants reported that they were complying with their medication regimen. However, forgetting to take medicines was stated by 4 participants while 2 participants stopped taking medicines when they felt better. In addition, 10 participants reporting using medicines according to their own knowledge and past experience. Whereas 4 participants took medicines according to other informal resources such as family, friends or the media. Seven participants have experienced side effects with using medicines, 4 of them informed their doctor while 3 participants stopped taking medicines without informing their doctor. 

Conclusion: There was a misunderstanding about medicines use in terms of medication compliance, self-management of the illness and the resources of information about using medicines.  Many efforts are still needed from health care professionals to provide sufficient information about medicines use in order to decrease the risk of inappropriate use of medicines and to achieve better therapeutic outcome.

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