One form of self-medication is sharing of medications, defined as borrowing or lending medications in situations where the receiver of these drugs is not the individual to whom the medications were allocated.
To explore experiences and opinions of patients about sharing prescription analgesics, reasons for sharing prescription analgesics, the way in which patients choose to share those medications, their awareness of risk regarding sharing prescription analgesics, and how they estimated the potential risk.
This qualitative study was conducted by focus group discussions with 40 participants led by a moderator trained in focus group methodology using a semi-structured moderator guide. Adults aged ≥18 years who had received a prescription for an analgesic at least once in a lifetime were included. Six separate focus groups were conducted to discuss participants’ perception of risks associated with sharing of prescription analgesics among patients. Additionally, participants filled out two questionnaires on demographic data, their own behavior regarding sharing analgesics, and their attitudes about risks associated with sharing prescription analgesics.
In a questionnaire, 55% of the participants indicated that they personally shared prescription analgesics, while subsequently in the focus group discussions, 76% confessed to such behavior. Participants recognized certain risks related to sharing of prescription analgesics, mentioned a number of reasons for engaging in such behavior, and indicated certain positive aspects of such behavior. Forty-five percent of the participants indicated that sharing prescription analgesics is riskier than sharing nonprescription analgesics.