Evaluating practical support stroke survivors get with medicines and unmet needs in primary care: a survey.

04 May 2018

OBJECTIVES: To design a questionnaire and use it to explore unmet needs with practical aspects of medicine taking after stroke, predictors of medicine taking and to estimate the proportion of survivors who get support with daily medication taking. DESIGN: Four workshops with stroke survivors and caregivers to design the questionnaire.A cross-sectional postal questionnaire in primary care. SETTING: 18 general practitioner practices in the East of England and London. Questionnaires posted between September 2016 and February 2017. PARTICIPANTS: 1687 stroke survivors living in the community outside institutional long-term care. PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: The proportion of community stroke survivors receiving support from caregivers for practical aspects of medicine taking; the proportion with unmet needs in this respect; the predictors of experiencing unmet needs and missing taking medications. RESULTS: A five-item questionnaire was developed to cover the different aspects of medicine taking. 596/1687 (35%) questionnaires were returned. 56% reported getting help in at least one aspect of taking medication and 11% needing more help. 35% reported missing taking their medicines. Unmet needs were associated with receiving help with medications (OR 5.9, P<0.001), being on a higher number of medications (OR 1.2, P<0.001) and being dependent for activities of daily living (OR 4.9, P=0.001). Missing medication was associated with having unmet needs (OR 5.3, P<0.001), receiving help with medications (OR 2.1, P<0.001), being on a higher number of medicines (OR 1.1, P=0.008) and being older than 70 years (OR 0.6, P=0.006). CONCLUSIONS: More than half of patients who replied needed help with taking medication, and 1 in 10 had unmet needs in this regard. 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.