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Enhancing Communication About Newly Prescribed Medications

Enhancing Communication About Newly Prescribed Medications

When physicians prescribe a new medication, there are many instances when basic information about the drug is not discussed with patients. Guidelines recommend that older adults be educated about the reason physicians prescribe medications, how to take them, and their potential side effects. “It has been postulated that better patient knowledge about medications may lead to better adherence,” says Derjung M. Tarn, MD, PhD. It has been reported that patients who have better and more discussions with their doctors about prescription medications are more adherent to them than those receiving less information. Many interventions have been launched in clinical studies to improve patient education and counseling about medications, but few have targeted the content of physician communication. “Physician-targeted interventions vary, but research shows that the information doctors provide to patients tends to be lacking in many cases,” Dr. Tarn explains. “They rarely address the cost of medications and oftentimes don’t adequately monitor adherence.” Greater exploration is needed into the information exchange during conversations with patients after prescribing medications. Prescription Medication Intervention In a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, Dr. Tarn and colleagues tested an intervention that involved training physicians to discuss five basic facts about a prescribed medication with patients: 1) the medication’s name, 2) its purpose, 3) directions for its use, 4) duration of use, and 5) potential side effects. How well physicians communicated these facts to patients was measured using the Medication Communication Index (MCI), a previously developed, 5-point index in which 1 point is given for discussion about each of five topics relating to a new prescription. Training consisted of a 1-hour interactive...
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