Many Patients Do Not Consolidate Drugs Efficiently

Low literacy identified as independent predictor of dosing more times than necessary per day

TUESDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- Many patients, especially those with low literacy, do not consolidate prescription regimens efficiently, according to a study published in the Feb. 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Michael S. Wolf, Ph.D., M.P.H., from Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues interviewed 464 adults, aged 55 to 74 years, to identify whether patients could effectively consolidate medications. Participants were asked to demonstrate how and when they would take a hypothetical seven-drug medication regimen in a 24-hour period, which could be consolidated into four dosing episodes. The number of dosing episodes per day was the primary outcome of the study, and causes of complicating the regimen to more than four episodes were analyzed.

The investigators found that participants had six dosing episodes on average in 24 hours (range, three to 14). Only 14.9 percent of participants organized the regimen into four episodes or fewer a day; whereas, 29.3 percent had seven or more dosing episodes. Low literacy independently predicted dosing more times per day. For two drugs with identical instructions, 31 percent of participants did not take them simultaneously. Adding an extra instruction to one drug in a set of drugs with similar instructions resulted in 49.5 percent of participants taking the medications at different times. Different expressions of the same dose frequency (every 12 hours versus twice daily) resulted in 79 percent of participants not consolidating the medications.

"We offer compelling, preliminary evidence of the need to help all patients more clearly understand, organize, and simplify their medication regimens," the authors write.

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