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Risk perception about medication sharing among patients: a focus group qualitative study on borrowing and lending of prescription analgesics

Authors Markotic F, Vrdoljak D, Puljiz M, Puljak L

Received 30 September 2016

Accepted for publication 15 December 2016

Published 10 February 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 365—374


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael Schatman

Filipa Markotic,1 Davorka Vrdoljak,2 Marijana Puljiz,3 Livia Puljak,4

1Centre for Clinical Pharmacology, University Clinical Hospital Mostar, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina; 2Department of Family Medicine, University of Split School of Medicine, Split, 3Family Medicine Clinic, Health Centre Imotski, Kamenmost, 4Laboratory for Pain Research, University of Split School of Medicine, Split, Croatia

Background: One form of self-medication is sharing of medications, defined as borrowing or lending medications in situations where the receiver of these drugs is not the individual to whom the medications were allocated.
Objective: To explore experiences and opinions of patients about sharing prescription analgesics, reasons for sharing prescription analgesics, the way in which patients choose to share those medications, their awareness of risk regarding sharing prescription analgesics, and how they estimated the potential risk.
Methods: This qualitative study was conducted by focus group discussions with 40 participants led by a moderator trained in focus group methodology using a semi-structured moderator guide. Adults aged ≥18 years who had received a prescription for an analgesic at least once in a lifetime were included. Six separate focus groups were conducted to discuss participants’ perception of risks associated with sharing of prescription analgesics among patients. Additionally, participants filled out two questionnaires on demographic data, their own behavior regarding sharing analgesics, and their attitudes about risks associated with sharing prescription analgesics.
Results: In a questionnaire, 55% of the participants indicated that they personally shared prescription analgesics, while subsequently in the focus group discussions, 76% confessed to such behavior. Participants recognized certain risks related to sharing of prescription analgesics, mentioned a number of reasons for engaging in such behavior, and indicated certain positive aspects of such behavior. Forty-five percent of the participants indicated that sharing prescription analgesics is riskier than sharing nonprescription analgesics.
Conclusion: There is a prevalent attitude among participants that sharing prescription analgesics is a positive behavior, where potential benefits outweigh risks.

Keywords: pain, self-medication, drugs, risk awareness, risk estimation

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