Derjung M. Tarn, M.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues assessed communication by physicians prescribing new medications in 185 outpatient visits with 44 physicians in 1999. “Patients who report better general physician communication, better explanations about how to take their medications and more medication information are more adherent,” the authors write. “One-on-one educational interventions can improve patient adherence and health outcomes.”

The researchers coded communication that occurred, based on five key recommended elements: the name of the medication, the purpose or justification for taking it, the duration of use, adverse effects and the number of tablets or sprays plus the frequency or timing of ingestion.

A total of 243 new medications were prescribed at visits monitored during the study. Overall, physicians communicated an average of 3.1 of the five essential elements, indicating that 62 percent of the necessary information was conveyed. Physicians used the specific name for 74 percent of new prescriptions, explained the purpose for 87 percent and discussed adverse effects for 35 percent. 34 percent of the encounters included instructions on how long to take the drug, 55 percent on the number of tablets to take and 58 percent on the frequency or timing of dosing.

“Although physicians educated patients more about psychiatric and analgesic medications, the overall quality of communication was poor even for these medication types and could contribute to patient misunderstandings about how and why to take their new medications. Physicians conveyed full medication dosing directions for less than 60 percent of all medications and informed patients about duration of intake and adverse effects or adverse events only approximately one-third of the time,” the authors write.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Medical Association (AMA)