We hypothesised that, because of stigma associated with mental illness, patients' knowledge of psychotropic medication would be less than that of non-psychotropic medication. We set out to establish the extent of knowledge about these medications using a cross-sectional survey of in-patients over 65 years of age in south London.
Of the study population (n = 86), 42% demonstrated an understanding of the purpose of taking both psychotropic and non-psychotropic medication, 15% understood only their psychotropic medication, 16% understood only their non-psychotropic medication and 27% understood neither medication. A surprising finding was that more than 20% of these patients with cognitive impairment were not able to recount their legal status; this factor was independently related to whether or not they knew the purpose of their psychotropic medication, and also whether or not they knew the purpose of neither type of medication.
Poor knowledge of medication has been associated with non-adherence and relapse. Older adults are likely to receive multiple medications because of their increased susceptibility to physical and psychiatric disorders with increasing age, so even more emphasis has to be placed on increasing knowledge of medication.
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