Introduction The most common therapeutic intervention by the NHS is the use of medicines. It is important that all patients, including children, are appropriately supported to take their medication as prescribed.
Aim This study sought to determine the support that children and young people (CYP) felt they used to aid them taking medication, and the reasons why adherence may be compromised in this age group.
Methods Questionnaires were used to determine where CYP seek information about medicines and support for medication-taking, and their attitudes to adherence to medication. The questions explored the priority order that CYP (age range 10–25 yrs) approach family, friends, and healthcare professionals for support and reasons why adherence may be compromised. The questionnaires were distributed at a local science museum educational activity and to students at a local secondary school.
Results Children and young people (n=168, 90 aged 16 years of age and above, 78<16 years) reported asking parents most frequently about their medicines with 49% stating that this is the first place they would seek information. Doctors were the second most common, followed by the pharmacist and the internet .94% of 16+ yr olds said they managed their own medication needs independently (compared with 77% of the younger group). However 57% of this older age group still felt they had significant support from their parents/carers to remind them to take their medication. More of the <16 year olds (53%) strongly agreed that they took medication as directed by doctor or pharmacist compared with the 16+group (43%). The most commonly cited reason for poor adherence was ‘forgetting’, with ‘being busy’ and ‘disliking’ the medication following. 13% of the 16 + yr olds had a long term condition, and 17% of the <16 year olds.
Conclusions 16+ yr olds are a vulnerable group and health care professionals need to be aware they still need adequate support for taking medication and managing their health care needs. Adherence appears to decline compared with younger teenagers. Interventions need to consider the lifestyle and priorities of teenagers as these affect adherence more than the medication specific factors.
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