Introduction: Management of medication regimens, and improvement of medication taking behaviours may require various levels of support, education, engagement, and barrier reduction from health services and or pharmacists. The use of Dose Administration Aids (DAAs) may improve medication management for some people, and therefore may facilitate positive health benefits. This study was informed by a literature review that found there was a dearth of data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ use of Dose Administration Aids. This study therefore aimed to understand what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living on the North Coast of NSW experiences were of using Dose Administration Aids (DAAs) and if the provision of DAAs supported medication-taking behaviours.
Methods: A mixed methods approach that included data collected from a questionnaire and a series of focus groups was used in this study. Analysis was completed at three stages throughout the study.
Results: A total of 30 Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander participants were included in the study. Participants lived in the area ranging from Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie. Twenty-six participants completed the questionnaire, and 20 participated in the focus groups, 16 completed both. Participants felt they were managing their medications well. The study noted that, despite this assessment, 45% of focus group participants (9/20) missed taking medications regularly for various reasons. The medication regimens of participants were varied and potentially complex, for example some participants were taking up to 23 individual doses of oral medications and insulin injections daily as a part of these regimens. Participants described their use of DAAs, and how they supported their medication-taking functionally and financially. Most participants reported that DAAs helped them manage their medications. The weekly or fortnightly provision of DAAs provided regular opportunities for pharmacists to interact with patients and/or their caregivers, supporting improved therapeutic relationships and possibly better health outcomes.
Conclusions: DAAs were an important tool for improving medication management for most Aboriginal patients who participated in the study. DAAs provided affordable and appropriate in-home support for patients to follow prescribed medication regimens. For the participants from this small study who used DAAs and viewed them as an important tool for managing medications, removal of financial subsidies that assist the provision of DAAs to Aboriginal peoples would have a negative effect on their ability to access them. This in turn may affect their medication-taking behaviours, potentially negatively affecting their long-term health outcomes. Further study regarding the Aboriginal patient experience of the use of DAAs over a longer period tracking medication adherence, and for a larger cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would be beneficial to understanding experience of use of DAAs on a wider scale.