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Hospital staff views on their role in providing information to patients on medication side effects


Objectives Studies have shown that on discharge from hospital, patients sometimes lack vital knowledge about their medicines. There is little research into how health professionals view the provision of information on medication side effects. The objective of this study was to elicit the views of hospital clinical staff on when, how and by whom information on medication side effects should be provided to inpatients.

Method An electronically delivered questionnaire emailed to clinical staff in a National Health Service hospital Trust in England. Participants were asked 10 questions. The main outcome measure was staff perceptions on the provision of information to patients on medication side effects.

Results The electronic survey was completed by 275 members of the clinical staff. More staff would prefer to give information when medicines are prescribed (58.8% think this is the best time) than currently do so (40.4% usually give information at this time). Time to talk to patients was perceived as the main barrier to providing information by 91.4% staff. Some staff groups identified insufficient knowledge of side effects as a barrier—38.8% nurses and 54.2% Foundation Year 1/Foundation Year 2 doctors. Pharmacists were seen as having the primary responsibility for providing verbal information about side effect by 59.9% of staff.

Conclusions Hospital staff recognise the importance of providing information about medicine side effects to patients, but struggle to embed this into routine practice. Some staff lack confidence in explaining side effects information to patients. There may be issues of staff training or beliefs and attitudes about perceived hierarchical structures or professional recognition among hospital staff.


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