Stroke survivors need more support with taking medicines, survey finds

Research has shown that more than half of stroke survivors have needed help with medication, and that one-in-ten say they need more help.

Woman's hand holding pills

A survey of stroke survivors in London and the East of England has found that one-in-ten say they need more help with taking their medications.

Researchers carried out a series of workshops with stroke survivors and their caregivers to design a postal questionnaire covering multiple aspects of medicines taking. This was then sent out to 1,687 stroke survivors living in the community, of whom 596 (35%) responded.

Reporting in the
BMJ Open
, the team found that, overall, 56% of respondents needed help with medication, including with prescriptions and collecting medicines, getting medicines out of packaging, being reminded to take their medicine, and swallowing.

Those who already received assistance with taking their medication were the most likely to say they had unmet needs, as were those who were dependent on others for help with daily activities (odds ratio: 4.9)

One-third of respondents said they had missed taking medication in the previous 30 days; missing medication was significantly associated with reporting having unmet needs (odds ratio: 5.3). Other factors linked to missed medication included taking multiple medicines and being aged under 70 years.

The results indicate that new primary care interventions focusing on the practicalities of taking medicines are needed for stroke survivors; these findings could be used to tailor these to the appropriate patients.

“Because of the risk of a second stroke, it’s important that stroke survivors take their medication, but our study has shown that this can present challenges,” said study author Anna De Simoni from the University of Cambridge and Queen Mary University of London. “In the majority of cases, they receive the help they need, but there is still a sizeable minority who don’t receive all the assistance they need.”

The researchers suggested that technology could provide some solutions to help stroke survivors take their medicines correctly.

“Advances in technology have the potential to facilitate delivery of such interventions, for example, electronic devices prompting medication-taking times,” they wrote. “Efforts to improve medication taking among survivors of stroke using technology are already under way and have shown promise.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, March 2018, Vol 300, No 7911;300(7911):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204534

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