Medication Matters - new research into psychotropic drugs
Press release issued: 1 November 2004
Issues surrounding the prescription of psychotropic drugs for people with learning difficulties are highlighted in new research project, Medication Matters, by Dr Jackie Rodgers and colleagues at the Norah Fry Research Centre.
Issues surrounding the prescription of psychotropic drugs for people with learning difficulties are highlighted in a newly completed research project, Medication Matters, by Dr Jackie Rodgers and colleagues at the Norah Fry Research Centre at the University of Bristol.
The research coincides with Ask About Medicines Week, a national initiative which begins today [Monday 1 November]. The campaign aims to increase people's involvement in decisions about their medicine use.
Psychotropic medications are tablets, medicines or injections that are prescribed to improve a person’s mood, mental status or behaviour. Previous research has shown that among people with learning difficulties, the rate of prescription for psychotropic drugs has been far in excess of the rate of psychiatric disorders.
The project team, which included five co-researchers who all have learning difficulties, visited four different regions in England and conducted in-depth interviews with 21 people with learning difficulties who are being prescribed psychotopic medication. The carers supporting them and the professionals who prescribed the medication were also interviewed.
The topics explored included their knowledge and understanding about their medication, the information they had been given about their medication and by whom, the support they received in taking their medication, and the areas where they would like to receive more information and support.
The researchers found that people with learning difficulties lacked knowledge about why they were taking their medication, what it was for and what the potential adverse effects might be. Most people felt that they had had little or no choice about whether they took their medication or not.
The information they did receive about their medication was generally given by their carer. However, interviews with the carers revealed large gaps in carer’s knowledge about psychotropic medications. While people with learning difficulties assumed their carers would know all about their medication, the carers were generally only trained in the practical administration of the medication, not in the broader issues about why it was prescribed or what the possible adverse effects might be. Some carers did not consider it their role to be involved in anything other than the practical administration of medication.
Dr Jackie Rodgers said: “We also found that accessible information about psychotropic medications was not commonly available. As a result, we're producing a number of resources for people with learning difficulties, their carers and prescribers.”
- a checklist of things to ask the doctor about medication which can be used by people with learning difficulties, their families and carers
- a booklet for people with learning difficulties, their families or carers where they can record information about their medications
- an interactive decision making tool for people with learning difficulties to help them make informed choices about taking the medications they are prescribed
- a guide for prescribers of psychotropic medications to things they should consider when issuing a prescription for psychotropic medication to people with learning difficulties
- a list of useful sources of information about medications.
For information on how to obtain these resources, please contact the research team: Pauline Heslop, Liz Folkes or Jackie Rodgers, Norah Fry Research Centre, University of Bristol, 3 Priory Road, Bristol BS8 1TX Tel: 0117 923 8137 email: email@example.com
The research team will be holding a local community seminar as part of Ask About Medicines Week at the Southville Centre, Beauley Road, Southville, Bristol on Wednesday 3rd November between 12.30 and 1.45pm.