How are medication related problems managed in primary care? An exploratory study in patients with diabetes and primary care providers

L van Eikenhorst*, K Taxis, J Rademakers, L L Zullig, H de Gier, L van Dijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Medication self-management is important for patients who are controlling diabetes. Achieving medication self-management goals, may depend on treatment complexity and patients' capacities such as health literacy, knowledge and attitude.

OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were to explore how patients with diabetes self-manage their medications, how patients seek support when experiencing problems and how primary healthcare providers identify patients' medication related problems and provide support.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted among patients with diabetes receiving primary care and with their primary healthcare providers - GPs, nurses, pharmacists and technicians - between January and June 2017. A purposive sampling strategy was used to identify and select participants. An interview guide based on the Cycle of Complexity model was developed. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were coded with a combination of deductive and inductive codes. A thematic analysis was performed to identify categories and themes in the data. Findings were compared with the Cycle of Complexity model.

RESULTS: Twelve patients and 27 healthcare providers were included in the study. From the transcripts 95 codes, 6 categories and 2 major themes were extracted. Patients used practical solutions and gaining knowledge to manage their medication. Their problems were often related to stress and concerns about using medications. A trusted relationship with the healthcare provider was essential for patients to share problems and ask for support. Informal support was sought from family and peer-patients. Healthcare providers perceive problem identification as challenging. They relied on patients coming forward, computer notifications, clinical parameters and gut-feeling. Healthcare providers were able to offer appropriate support if a medication management problem was known.

CONCLUSION: Patients are confident of finding their way to manage their medications. However, sharing problems with healthcare providers requires a trusted relationship. This is acknowledged by both patients and healthcare providers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-653
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Social & Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number5
Early online date13 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Self-management
  • Medication
  • Primary healthcare providers
  • Communication
  • Health literacy

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