Ethnic differences of medicines-taking in older adults: A cross cultural study in New Zealand

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, 2012, 20 (2), pp. 90 - 98
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Objectives The literature identifies many barriers to medicines use, including bio-psycho-social issues, but less is known regarding ethno-cultural barriers, which are important in culturally diverse nations. The aim of this study was to explore ethnic differences in attitudes to medicines and medicines-taking, focusing on the main constituents of the New Zealand (NZ) population: NZ European, Māori (the indigenous people of NZ), Pacific and Asian peoples. Methods A qualitative study involving a series of focus groups was conducted. Participants (>50 years old) taking medicines were recruited from various community-based groups. The focus group discussions were transcribed verbatim and analysed for key themes via manual inductive coding and constant comparison. Key findings Twenty focus groups (n = 100 participants) were conducted. Three key common themes emerged: (1) conception of a medicine; (2) self-management of medication; and (3) seeking further medicines information. In general, NZ European participants had a very narrow view of what a medicine is, were motivated to source medicines information independently and were very proactive in medicines management. At the other end of the spectrum, Pacific peoples expressed a broad view of what constitutes a medicine, were not motivated to source medicines information independently and were not proactive in medicines management, tending to instead rely on healthcare professionals for answers. The findings from the various ethnic groups highlight differences in attitudes to medicines per se and medicines-taking; these influences on medication-taking behaviour need to be considered in the provision of pharmaceutical care. Conclusion Ethnic differences in attitudes to medicines and medicines-taking are apparent, although there are some commonalities in terms of needs regarding support and advice around medicines' use. This will help inform the development of resources and communication tools to assist pharmacists in providing pharmaceutical care to diverse patient populations. © 2011 Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
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