Physicians need to improve dialogue with patients on new medications

December 1, 2006

Assuming ob/gyns follow similar prescribing habits as primary-care physicians and cardiologists, you may want to take note: A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (9/25/2006) found that physicians aren't providing enough education about the new medications they prescribe.

Assuming ob/gyns follow similar prescribing habits as primary-care physicians and cardiologists, you may want to take note: A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (9/25/2006) found that physicians aren't providing enough education about the new medications they prescribe.

In an effort to assess how thoroughly physicians provided information about newly prescribed medications to patients, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California-Davis Medical Center reviewed physician and patient surveys, as well as audiotaped outpatient visits to family physicians, internists, and cardiologists. The researchers measured the quality of the communications by looking at whether the physicians provided the medication name, the reason for taking the medication, the duration of use, adverse effects, and dosing information (including number of tablets or sprays to be taken and timing of medication intake).

The researchers found that, on average, physicians communicated just 62% of the necessary elements about new medication to patients. They described 97% of their new prescriptions, but only stated the brand or generic name of the medicine for 74%. They indicated the purpose of the new medication for 87% of prescriptions, the duration of use for 34%, and adverse effects for 35%. They noted the number of tablets or sprays for 55% of prescriptions and the timing of medication intake for 58%.