Using a qualitative methodology, the project is aiming to:
Gain insight into the ways that young people (age 11-14) perceive different medicines and understand the way that they work;
Examine the contexts within which different medications are used by young people;
Understand the autonomy of young people in medicine-related decision-making and management;
Examine what young people understand about both the health and environmental impacts of medicine misuse;
Identify what young people want to know about medicines; and to work with them to identify initiatives that could help in the promotion of healthy and sustainable medicine use.
Recent decades have witnessed a significant global rise in the use of pharmaceutical medicines. In England, the number of prescriptions issued per head has more than doubled in the past twenty years, alongside the growing availability of a vast range of over-the-counter medications.
Yet estimates suggest that more than half of all medicines are prescribed, dispensed or sold inappropriately, and that half of all patients fail to take them as directed. This results not only in significant adverse health impacts, but also in serious repercussions in terms of increased antimicrobial resistance. At the same time, pharmaceutical waste adversely impacts the environment and ecosystems when unused medicines are disposed of inappropriately or when they enter the human or animal waste stream.
In the long-term, it seems likely that the adverse health and environmental impacts of medicine misuse will be most felt by today’s young people. This project will help to fill a gap in our understanding of medicine use amongst this population.