One in every two patients with stroke in the United Kingdom require some degree of help taking medications but a sizeable minority say they do not receive the practical support they need, according to a study published today in BMJ Open.
The study involved 1687 stroke survivors living in the community outside institutional long-term care. Participants recruited from 18 general practitioner practices in the East of England and London completed a cross-sectional postal questionnaire.
Of 1687 questionnaires, 596 (35%) were returned. Among these, 56% reported getting help in at least one aspect of taking medication and 11% needing more help. 34% reported missing doses. Unmet needs were associated with receiving help with medications (OR, 5.9; P<.001), being on a higher number of medications (OR, 1.2; P<.001) and being dependent for activities of daily living (OR, 4.9; P=.001). Missing medication was associated with having unmet needs (OR, 5.3; P<.001), receiving help with medications (OR, 2.1; P<.001), being on a higher number of medicines (OR, 1.1; P=.008) and being older than 70 years (OR, 0.6; P=.006).
“Stroke survivors dependent on others have more unmet needs, are more likely to miss medicines and might benefit from focused clinical and research attention. Novel primary care interventions focusing on the practicalities of taking medicines are warranted,” the authors say.
They add that through understanding “the needs of survivors and caregivers in different aspects of daily medication taking, we can help direct future resources to the areas of greatest need. For example, further exploration of medication packaging is warranted to understand the difficulties stroke survivors face handling medicines.”