Health Literacy

Medication Literacy Definition

Defining and identifying concepts of medication literacy: an international perspective

Medication literacy is a large dimension of Health Literacy given the role medications play in disease management, and the potential for drug-related adverse events. There has been a growing need for a precise definition of health literacy in the context of medication use.

Medication literacy is the degree to which individuals can obtain, comprehend, communicate, calculate and process patient-specific information about their medications to make informed medication and health decisions in order to safely and effectively use their medications, regardless of the mode by which the content is delivered (e.g. written, oral and visual).”

This definition of Medication Literacy was created based on consensus among international experts after 4 rounds using the Delphi process.

This definition can be used in future studies that look at how tools can be created to help support pharmacists and other healthcare providers in improving the medication literacy of patients.

Based on consensus (>80% agreement), 26 statements were classified as essential and 4 as secondary as the type of information necessary for optimal and safe use of medication.

STATEMENTS

ESSENTIALNESS

Type of information necessary for optimal and safe use of medication

1. Medication name.

E

2. Dosing information (e.g. frequency, duration, and timing).

E

3. When to take medication – with or without food.

E

4. Time to take medication with patient’s other pharmacotherapy.

E

5. Treatment indication, goals, and outcomes.

E

6. Side effects & precautions (e.g. contraindications).

E

7. Drug-drug interactions (including alcohol).

E

8. When to omit intake of medication.

E

9. When and how to expect therapeutic effects.

E

10. Food-drug interactions (including grapefruit).

E

11. Instructions to follow if dose is missed.

E

12. Medication storage instruction.

E

13. Medication disposal instruction.

S

Extract from: Pouliot A, Vaillancourt R, Stacey D, Suter P. Defining and identifying concepts of medication literacy: An international perspective. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy. 2017;14(9):797-804

Pharmacists have a key role in improving the medication literacy of patients through counselling and directing patients to other sources of information. Increasing medication literacy has the potential to improve adherence and empowering patients in the self-management of their health.

References

Pouliot A, Vaillancourt R, Stacey D, Suter P. Defining and identifying concepts of medication literacy: An international perspective. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy. 2017;14(9):797-804