1.4. Parents need support in managing their child's medication

Public examination of a doctoral dissertation in the field of social pharmacy

Doctoral candidate MSc (Pharm) Kati Sepponen

Time and venue 1.4.2011 at 12 noon, Medistudia Auditorium ML 2, Kuopio campus

Childhood diseases and their symptoms are commonly treated with medicines. Health care professionals should be aware of the possible problems related to home medication if they are to be fully capable of supporting families in disease management. The literature review of this study deals with the prevalence of childhood diseases and medicine use as well as the factors related to successful medication management. The following themes are explored in the empirical part of the study: the perceived benefits of medicine use and its position relative to other treatment options, the problems associated with home medication and the ways dealing with them, the perceived independence of a child in medicine use, and the effects of a training program for health care professionals on children’s postoperative pain management at home.

The study consists of three substudies focused on the home pain management of children aged 0–7 years (n= 115 and n=112), the antibiotic treatment of respiratory tract infections at home in children aged 0–12 years (n=643), and the experiences of children aged 7–12 years (n=31) with asthma medicines. The data for the first two substudies were gathered using postal questionnaires sent to parents, and the data for the third substudy by interviewing children with asthma and their parents.    

Besides medicines, non-medical methods were also used when treating pain and asthma. Complementary and alternative therapies, such as herbal remedies or homeopathy, were very seldom used in children. The following problems related to medicine use emerged at home: adverse effects, fear of adverse effects, lack of efficacy, refusal to take medicine, bad taste of medicine, difficulties in swallowing, and forgetting to take medication. Furthermore, the following factors made the use of regular asthma medication more demanding: complicated medication schedule, unmanageable and awkward inhalation devices, becoming tired of regular medication, and getting teased because of taking medicine. The 7–12-year-old children with asthma were fairly independent in their use of asthma medicines but the independence was virtually non-existent in the case of other medicines.

The training program for health care professionals on children’s postoperative pain management increased the proportion of parents who medicated their child (before 68 % vs. after 80 %, p=0,028). A noticeable increase also occurred in the proportion of parents who had received home care instructions for pain medication (51 % vs. 73 %, p=0,001) as well as the instruction to give pain medicine regularly at first (16 % vs. 54 %, p<0,001).   

Many medication-related problems can be prevented by careful selection of the optimal preparation and dosage form,and by giving appropriate information to children and parents not only about the correct administration of the medicine but also about the expected effects and possible adverse effects of the treatment. Furthermore, listening and supporting the families is a prerequisite for successful medical treatment.

The doctoral dissertation of MSc (Pharm) Kati Sepponen, entitled Children’s medicine use and the problems related to it from the children’s and parents’ perspectives will be examined at the Faculty of Health Sciences. The opponent in the public examination will be Professor Matti Korppi of the University of Tamrere, and the custos will be Professor Riitta Ahonen of the University of Eastern Finland.

Photo available for download at http://www.uef.fi/uef/vaitoskuvat

Contact: Kati Sepponen, tel. 040 355 2599, kati.sepponen(at)uef.fi

Publishing year: 2011

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