The best medicine?
Press release issued: 25 April 2005
Three new resources have today been launched by the Norah Fry Research Centre and Medicines Partnership to help people with learning disabilities make more informed decisions about the medicines they are taking.
- New materials launched to help people with learning disabilities make informed decisions about the medicines they are taking -
Three new resources have today been launched by the University of Bristol's Norah Fry Research Centre and Medicines Partnership to help people with learning disabilities make more informed decisions about the medicines they are taking.
The booklets entitled ‘My medicine’, ‘All my Medicines’ and ‘Making Choices about Medicine’ are illustrated guides to be used by people with learning disabilities, their carers and the health professionals working with them. They help to record information about why each medicine is being taken, when they should be taken and any precautions the taker needs to be think about. ‘Making Choices about Medication’ has been designed to help a person with learning disabilities to weigh up the pros and cons of taking a treatment and can be a valuable tool in the process of obtaining informed consent – a notoriously difficult area for this group.
The materials have been developed as a result of a research project by the Norah Fry Research Centre which revealed that people with learning disabilities who were taking psychotropic medication felt that they had had little or no choice about whether they took medication or not.
The research project was conducted with 21 people with learning disabilities prescribed psychotropic medication, the carers supporting them and their health professionals. 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.
Dr Jackie Rodgers, Senior Research Fellow at the Norah Fry Research Centre said: “The research revealed that the information people with learning disabilities receive about their medication was generally given by their carer. While people with learning difficulties assumed their carers would know all about their medication, the researchers found that 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.
“We felt that these findings have implications not just for psychotropic medication but medicines in general. If people with learning difficulties and their families or carers are not in full possession of the information about medication, psychotropic or otherwise, it is questionable whether they can be said to be giving informed consent to treatment with medication.”
A checklist of things to ask about medicines is included in an easy summary of the findings of the project, aimed at people with learning disabilities, and will also be distributed to groups throughout the country. The checklist will help to ensure that people with learning disabilities and their carers feel empowered to ask health professionals about the medicines they are taking and work towards shared decision making between doctor and patient.
Geraldine Mynors, Head of Projects at Medicines Partnership said: “Health professionals can underestimate how much information people with learning difficulties can understand and want to receive. Conversely the knowledge of carers is often overestimated by prescribers. These resources are designed to help people to find answers to the questions that they have identified as important to them in a format that they can understand.”