A mixed methods investigation into aspects of medication wastage in Malta.
West, Lorna Marie
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Reducing medication wastage is a paramount objective in promoting appropriate utilisation of finite resources and preventing negative consequences. The aim of this research was to investigate aspects of medication wastage in Malta by applying mixed methods research and, by doing so, contribute original knowledge to this area. A systematic review was conducted to appraise critically, synthesize and present the available evidence on the possible causative factors associated with medication wastage and the effectiveness of any interventions focusing on wastage reduction as an outcome measure. Findings indicated that only one published paper reported a definition of medication wastage. The main factors contributing to wastage were ‘change in medication’, ‘patient's death’, ‘resolution of patient's condition’ and ‘passed expiry date’. Very few studies reported medication wastage as an outcome measure. The Delphi technique was applied to define ‘medication wastage’ and its contributory factors in the context of the Maltese population. A definition for medication wastage was generated with 86% of panellists agreeing/totally agreeing and sixty-one possible factors leading to wastage were identified by the panellists. The perspectives of the Maltese population, healthcare professionals and students on medication wastage were investigated through cross-sectional surveys. Results of questionnaires indicate lack of patient education and knowledge with the free healthcare system and the overstocking of medication by patients due to previous or potential out of stock situations as contributors to medication wastage. The beliefs and behaviours regarding medication wastage of the Maltese public and healthcare professionals were explored during focus groups. The theoretical domains framework was adopted to design the focus group guide and to interpret systematically the findings. Five key themes emerged which were proposed as solutions to minimise medication wastage: system effects, practitioner effects, patients effects, political effects and awareness and educational effects Research results and findings from all four phases will facilitate the systematic development of strategies and policies, with emphasis on prioritisation, with the aim of minimising medication wastage at all levels.