How Do People With Dementia Make Sense of Their Medications? An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Study
Lim R., Sharmeen T., Donyai P.
BACKGROUND: Managing medication is complex and multifaceted for people with dementia and their family carers. Despite efforts to support medication management, medication errors and medication-related hospital admissions still occur. This study investigated how people with dementia viewed and talked about their medications and medication-taking. METHODS: An interpretative phenomenological approach (IPA) qualitative research design combining photo elicitation and in-depth interviews was used. People with a diagnosis of mild or moderate dementia confirmed with Montreal Cognitive Assessment, took photographs of anything they viewed to be related to medication, with/out the help of family carers, over any two-day period. The photographs were then used as cues for a subsequent in-depth interview. Interview data were analysed using IPA. RESULTS: Twelve people with dementia were interviewed. In-depth analysis of interviews generated four themes: 1) Medication as a lifeline, 2) Overcoming the uncertainty about the effectiveness of donepezil, 3) Managing medications dominate daily lives and plans and 4) Sense of being and being in control. People with dementia view donepezil as a lifeline but some continually struggle to know whether it helps their condition. Despite this uncertainty, people with dementia continue to take their medications. Managing medications dominates their daily lives and plans and redefines them. CONCLUSIONS: This study provided unique insights into how people with dementia make sense of their medication. Healthcare professionals can use these insights to shape their practice around medication prescribing and advice. The findings are also useful to researchers looking to develop interventions to support medication management within the home setting.