Let’s listen! Redesigning medication programs to suit the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Home Medicines Review (HMR) program has been found to raise awareness of medication safety, reduce adverse events and improve medication adherence. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) clients are the most likely of all Australians to miss out on HMRs despite their high burden of chronic disease and high rates of hospitalisation due to medication misadventure.

This study investigated how pharmacists, through the HMR program, might better address the medication management needs of Indigenous people.  It explored the attitudes and perceptions towards medication review of clients, health professionals in Aboriginal Health Services (AHSs) and pharmacists.

Eighteen focus groups with 101 Indigenous clients, and 31 interviews with health professionals were conducted at 11 AHSs. Focus groups and interviews were recorded, de-identified and transcribed. Transcripts were coded and analysed thematically.  A cross sectional survey was used to gather demographic, qualitative and quantitative data from HMR accredited pharmacists.

Barriers to provision of medication review to Indigenous clients included paternalistic attitudes of health professionals, the GP-client relationship, and the need for more culturally responsive pharmacists. Onerous, inflexible HMR program rules were impediments to health professionals, pharmacists and clients alike.

Remodelling of the HMR program is needed to increase the awareness, accessibility, acceptability and effectiveness of the HMR program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Like many health programs, the HMR program was designed without consultation or input from Indigenous people.

This presentation will explore how research can result in changes in policy and increased consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.