Medication use practices and perceptions among patients in a U.S.-Mexico border community

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Journal of the American Pharmacists Association

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Objective: To identify themes surrounding medication use practices and perceptions among individuals from a U.S.-Mexico border community recruited to participate in focus groups. Methods: This study was conducted in El Paso, TX. Adult participants considered to be at risk for medication therapy problems (i.e., older adults, pregnant or breast-feeding women, parents of young children) were recruited for participation. Focus groups and a survey were used to evaluate perceptions, concerns, and patterns of use of U.S. medications, Mexican medications, and herbal products. Results: A sample of 73 adults, most of whom were Hispanic women (11 = 60 [82%]), were recruited for participation in seven focus groups. Across groups, the majority participated in the older adult cohort (n = 42 [58%]), reported having an annual household income of less than $15,000 (n = 57 [78%]), and identified that they had less than a high school education (n = 40 [55%]). Four dominant themes emerged from the participants who completed both the survey and focus groups: (1) a "comfort" level for using a combination of U.S. medications, Mexican medications, and herbal products; (2) customary use of different drug information sources including physicians, Mexican pharmacy staff, U.S. pharmacists, and family members ; (3) inconsistent levels of confidence in interpreting, measuring, and using medications ; and (4) a sense of frustration regarding medication costs, which led participants to seek alternative options. Conclusion: These qualitative results provide an increased understanding of medication use practices and perceptions in this population. Findings such as these can provide guidance and insight into the development of interventions to improve safe and effective medication use.