An Exploratory Mixed Methods Investigation of Surplus Medications in the Homes of Psychiatric Outpatients
Barr, Bonny J.
The accumulation of surplus prescription medications by individuals is a national and global concern for leaders in health care and public health. Surplus stores of medications in residences are associated with illicit drug abuse, deaths, and poisonings. Individuals with mental illnesses have increased risks associated with these surplus medication-related problems. Limited research has been conducted into the extent of accumulations of surplus medications in individual households and no research has been identified which surveyed the rationales that people have for keeping surplus medications. This exploratory study utilized a mixed methods approach to investigate if surplus prescription medications were present in the homes of fifteen participants receiving outpatient psychiatric treatment. This study also explored how the participants described their decision-making processes regarding disposition of surplus medications. |Over half of the fifteen participants had surplus medications in amounts ranging from a one week supply to more than a three month supply. Participants who had a surplus either avoided making a decision about disposition, or did not think surplus medication was a problem. The participants without a surplus reported being taught about the dangers of keeping no longer utilized medication and reported disposing of extra supplies in a timely fashion. These findings suggest that some psychiatric patients can be taught proper medication disposal methods and avoid accumulating surplus medications. Leaders in public health, mental health, and government can utilize the findings to target education to possibly reduce surplus medication-related problems.|Keywords: psychiatric patients, mental illness, surplus medications, medication accumulation
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