Research to explore pharmaceutical information pathway

Victoria University of Wellington researchers are exploring how information about medicines is transferred from doctor, to pharmacist, to patient.

Dr Denise Taylor from the Faculty of Health and Dr Courtney Addison from the Centre for Science in Society will receive over $200,000 from the Health Research Council (HRC) and PHARMAC Research Partnership Initiative.

The project will examine three points of information transfer about medicines: what pharmaceutical knowledge general practitioners (GPs) use to prescribe treatments for patients; how pharmacists mediate the exchange of pharmaceutical knowledge between GPs and patients; and how patients then interpret that information and use medicines.

“Although these processes happen thousands of times every day, we do not yet have a good understanding of the decision-making processes GPs and pharmacists use to determine what information to share with patients about their medicines,” says Dr Taylor.

Researchers will observe pharmacists and GPs at work, noting what they do and how they explain pharmaceuticals, and will also interview them to learn about the reasoning behind their choices. They will also interview patients about their experiences with medicines. The findings will be analysed to determine what pathways medical information takes to reach patients, and how this may affect their use of medicines.

A key contribution of the project is understanding how patients connect information gathered about their medicines with their pre-existing knowledge and context, says Dr Addison.

“This will allow us to tailor how we talk about pharmaceuticals to patients and therefore improve their effectiveness.”

The HRC and PHARMAC Research Partnership Initiative supports innovative research that helps people get the best out of funded medicines.