Patients Perspectives on Polypharmacy: A Survey-Based Cross-Sectional Study
Author(s): Aisha A Kassem, Yosra Z Alhindi*, Alaa H Falemban, Asim M Alshanberi, Nahla A Ayoub and Safaa M Alsanosi
Introduction: Management of chronic illnesses commonly includes a long-term pharmacological approach. Saudi Arabia has a great percentage of patients associated with multiple chronic diseases who need close attention and specialized care for their medications. Although this is a well-recognized problem, few studies have investigated medical prescription in connection to polypharmacy in Saudi Arabia. This study aims to elucidate patients’ perspectives on polypharmacy in primary healthcare (PHC) centers in the Makkah Region, Saudi Arabia. Method: A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study was conducted among patients attending PHC centers in the Makkah Region, Saudi Arabia (1 June to 31 November 2021). Patients aged 18 years and above who were taking prescribed or non-prescribed medications were included. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the participants' characteristics, and categorical variables were reported as frequencies and percentages. A Chi-square test was used to test the relation between variables. Results: In total, 213 participants were included in the study. Females represented 60% of the participants. In terms of the history of chronic diseases, 40% had hypertension and 34% had diabetes mellitus. As to the number of prescribed medications, 48% of participants mentioned that they took fewer than five, 29% took five, and 23% took more than five. As regards over-the-counter medications (OTC), 49% of the participants used OTC (21% used analgesics and 6% used antiallergics). Concerning side effects related to prescribed medications, about half of the participants experienced headache (51%), followed by muscle pain (23%), constipation or diarrhea (17%), and less than 10% for each of the remaining side effects. There was a significant relationship between the number of prescribed medications per day and the times patients forget to take their medications per week (P=0.045) and between the number of prescribed medications per day and the side effects related to prescribed medications (P<0.001). Conclusion: Polypharmacy is a serious issue of public concern. Physicians should be careful with the prescriptions they give to every patient, considering the risk and potential drug interactions that might accompany them. More longitudinal and prospective studies need to be done to detect the prevalence of polypharmacy in healthcare institutions in Saudi Arabia.