Elderly Chinese and Vietnamese Immigrants’ Medicine Use and Attitudes to a Home Medicines Review

26 May 2014

There is a paucity of research into the perceptions of elderly Australian ethnic minorities towards public health services related to quality use of medicines. Among the six fastest growing ethnic groups in Australia, the Mandarin-speaking Chinese and Vietnamese constitute the largest elderly populations with poor English skills. This paper investigates the relationships of elderly Chinese and Vietnamese migrants with medicines, general practitioners and pharmacists, and how these relationships influence their awareness and attitudes of the Home Medicines Review (HMR) program. Two semi-structured focus groups were held with a total of 17 HMR-eligible patients who have never received an HMR, one with Chinese and one with Vietnamese respondents, each in the respective community language. Confusion about medications and an intention to have an HMR were pronounced among all participants although none of them had heard of the program before participating in the focus groups. Respondents reported difficulties locating a pharmacist who spoke their native language, which contributed to an increased unmet need for medicine information. The Chinese group additionally complained about a lack of support from their general practitioners in relation to their medicine concerns and was adamant that they would prefer to have an HMR without the involvement of their general practitioner. Our results indicate a distinct HMR need but not use among elderly Chinese and Vietnamese eligible patients with poor English skills. HMR service use and perceived medication problems are likely to improve with an increasing availability of bi-lingual and culturally sensitive health care providers.