Nurses’ attitudes and behaviors on patient medication education

Jane F. Bowen, Melissa E. Rotz, Brandon J. Patterson, Sanchita Sen


Background: Medication education is vital for positive patient outcomes. However, there is limited information about optimal medication education by nurses during hospitalization and care transitions.

Objective: Examine nurses’ attitudes and behaviors regarding the provision of patient medication education. The secondary objectives were to determine if nurses’ medication education attitudes explain their behaviors, describe nurses’ confidence in patient medication knowledge and abilities, and identify challenges to and improvements for medication education.

Methods: A cross sectional survey was administered to nurses servicing internal medicine, cardiology, or medical-surgical patients.

Results: Twenty-four nurses completed the survey. Greater than 90% of nurses believed it is important to provide information on new medications and medical conditions, utilize resources, assess patient understanding and adherence, and use open ended question. Only 58% believed it is important to provide information on refill medications. Greater than 80% of nurses consistently provided information on new medications, assessed patient understanding, and utilized resources, but one-third or less used open-ended questions or provided information on refill medications. Most nurses spend 5-9 minutes per patient on medication education and their attitudes matched the following medication education behaviors: assessing adherence (0.57; p<0.01), providing information on new medications (0.52; p<0.05), using open-ended questions (0.51; p<0.01), and providing information on refill medications (0.39; p<0.05). Nurses had higher confidence that patients can understand and follow medication instructions, and identify names and purpose of their medications. Nurses had lower confidence that patients know what to expect from their medication or how to manage potential side effects. Communication, including language barriers and difficulty determining the patient’s understanding of the information, was the most common challenge for nurses and they suggested utilization of translator services and patient-friendly drug information resources as a way to improve.

Conclusion: Nurses have positive attitudes toward patient medication education. However, their attitudes do not fully explain their behaviors and many nurses are spending limited time with patients on medication education. Enhancements to medication education could include resources on communication and collaboration with pharmacists.


Patient Education as Topic; Nurses; Attitude of Health Personnel; Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice; Surveys and Questionnaires; United States

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