To explore the experiences and methods used by parents to administer long term medicines to their children.
Methods Semi structured qualitative interviews with parents of children who are prescribed long term medication for a chronic condition. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Analysis was inductive and informed by the principles of grounded theory and constant comparison method.
Results Semi structured interviews with the parents of 13 (N = 12) children between 5 to 11 years; female (n = 5) and male (n = 8). The sample is currently being extending to include the parents of up to 20 children.
Parent’s accounts were variable. Some parents reported no problems administering medicines to their child but other parents described prolonged ‘battles’. Taste was cited as the main reason for a child refusing a medicine. Some methods used by parents to encourage children to comply with medication, such as rewards and reasoning are commonly used by parents giving short term medicines but these methods needed to be regularly adapted over time as their effect wore off. Parents also described ordering medicines, giving two medicines together or missing medicine doses in order to reduce ‘battles’ and increase compliance.
Parents were confident in manipulating medicines (cutting, crushing or splitting tablets etc.), but had concerns about controlling the dose their child received e.g. tablets crumbling. Similarly, parents did not favour disguising medicines in food or drink as they felt this method did not work, risked losing the trust of their child, and their child potentially refusing that particular food or drink in the future. Furthermore, parents had concerns about controlling the dose of a medicine using this method.
Conclusion Some parents described ‘battles’ over administering medicine to their children that had a significant and negative impact on daily family life. Taste was the major barrier to compliance. Methods perceived as favourable by clinicians, such as disguising medicines in food and drink, were not favoured by parents who employed a range of alternative strategies, some of which involved altering medicine regimens and was not supported by evidence.
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