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Exploring Medicines Burden Among Adults in New Zealand: A Cross-Sectional Survey

Authors Tordoff JM, Brenkley C, Krska J, Smith A

Received 16 September 2019

Accepted for publication 10 December 2019

Published 20 December 2019 Volume 2019:13 Pages 2171—2184


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

June M Tordoff,1 Charlotte Brenkley,2 Janet Krska,3 Alesha Smith1

1School of Pharmacy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; 2Karori Mall Pharmacy, Wellington, New Zealand; 3Medway School of Pharmacy, Universities of Greenwich and Kent, Chatham, Kent, UK

Correspondence: June M Tordoff
School of Pharmacy, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel +64 3479 7275
Fax +64 3479 7034

Background: Using medicines regularly can be a burden for some people and can contribute to reduced adherence. In New Zealand, relatively few studies have examined people’s medicine-taking experiences and most involved older people, although medicine burden is also an issue for younger people. The UK-developed “Living with Medicines Questionnaire” (LMQ-3) is an instrument designed to quantify medicine burden.
Objective: The objective was to quantify medicines burden among New Zealand adults, using the LMQ-3, to identify any sub-populations with high medicine burden and to identify specific issues that may need to be addressed.
Setting: The study was set in New Zealand and included seven national patient support group websites, and five community pharmacies in Dunedin.
Methods: The survey was distributed to adults ≥18 years using ≥ one medicine for ≥3 months. LMQ-3 scores and domain scores were compared by patient characteristics using descriptive statistics and statistical tests.
Results: In total, 472 responses were analysed: 327/417 (78.4%) from patient support group websites and 145/360 (40.3%) from community pharmacies. Most commonly participants were female (295, 62.5%), ≥65 years (236, 50.0%), European (422, 89.4%), retired (232, 49.2%), university educated (203, 43.0%), used medicines independently (449, 95.1%), and paid for prescriptions (429, 90.9%). Most used <10 medicines (415, 87.9%) and <three times daily (356, 75.4%). From LMQ scores, 30.5% had a high burden (≥111). Regression analysis indicated that higher LMQ-3 scores were associated with those who were unemployed, aged 18–29 years, using ≥5 medicines, or using medicines <3 times a day (p<0.01). Burden was mainly driven by a perceived lack of autonomy over medicine regimens, or concerns about medicines and side effects.
Conclusion: Three quarters of New Zealand participants experienced moderate or high medicine burden. Being unemployed, aged 18–29 years, or using more (or more frequent) medicines, were associated with higher burden. These groups should become the target for interventions seeking to reduce medicine burden.

Keywords: medicines, treatment burden, long-term conditions, patients’ perspectives, side effects, New Zealand

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