Information on antidepressants for psychiatric inpatients: the divide between patient needs and professional practice

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Franciska A. Desplenter
Gert Laekeman
Sandra De Coster
. VZA Psychiatry Research Group
Steven Simoens



Background: Medicine information is an integral part of patient care and a patient right. In particular, patients with a mental health diagnosis have a need for information on medicines.

Objective: This study aims to describe the current practice on information provision on antidepressants to inpatients in psychiatric hospitals.

Methods: A qualitative study was conducted consisting of semi-structured interviews with health care professionals (n=46) and patients (n=17) in 11 Flemish psychiatric hospitals. Two topic guides were designed for conducting the interviews with these respective stakeholders. The issues addressed in the topic guides related to: organization of information provision in the hospital, information on demand of the patient, information provision by health care professionals, information for relatives, evaluation of provided information, interdisciplinary contacts on information provision and satisfaction on current practice of information provision. The interviews were analysed according to the five stages of the framework analysis.

Results: Psychiatrists and nurses are the key players to provide information on antidepressants. Their approach depends on patient characteristics and mental state. Information is provided mainly orally. Health care professionals consider non-verbal cues of patients to verify if information has been understood. Health care professionals reported lack of time and lack of interdisciplinary contacts as negative aspects. Patients indicated that health care professionals take too little initiative to provide medicine information.

Conclusions: Patients are informed about their antidepressants through various pathways. Although the awareness is present of the importance of the individual approach and efforts are done to tailor information to the individual patient, improvement is still possible. Tailoring communication; assessing patient needs and preferences; matching of health care professional style and patient needs; and achieving concordance, is a complex and challenging task for health care professionals in mental health care.

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