A systematic review examining the characteristics of users of NHS patient medicines helpline services, and the types of enquiries they make

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Abstract

Background and objective: Patient medicines helpline services (PMHS) are available from some National Health Service Trusts in the United Kingdom to support patients following discharge. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the available evidence regarding the characteristics of enquirers and enquiries to PMHS, in order to develop recommendations for service improvement.

Methods: Searches were conducted using Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus, and Web of Science, on 4th June 2019. Forward and backward citation searches were conducted, and grey literature was searched. Studies were included if they reported any characteristics of enquirers who use PMHS, and/or enquiries received. Study quality was assessed using the AXIS tool. A narrative synthesis was conducted, and where appropriate, weighted means (WM) were calculated. Where possible, outcomes were compared to Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data for England, to establish whether the profile of helpline users may differ to that of hospital patients.

Results: Nineteen studies were included (~ 4423 enquiries). Risk of bias from assessed studies was 71%. Enquirers were predominantly female (WM = 53%; HES mean = 57%), elderly (WM = 69 years; HES mean = 53 years), and enquired regarding themselves (WM = 72%). Out of inpatient and outpatient enquirers, 50% were inpatients and 50% were outpatients (WM). Six of fourteen studies reported adverse effects as the main enquiry reason. Two of four studies reported antimicrobial drugs as the main enquiry drug class. From two studies, the main clinical origin of enquiries were general surgery and cardiology. Across six studies, 27% (WM) of enquiries concerned medicines-related errors.

Conclusions: Our findings show that PMHS are often used by elderly patients, which is important since this group may be particularly vulnerable to experiencing medicines-related issues following hospital discharge. Over a quarter of enquiries to PMHS may concern medicines-related errors, suggesting that addressing such errors is an important function of this service. However, our study findings may be limited by a high risk of bias within included studies. Further research could provide a more detailed profile of helpline users (e.g., ethnicity, average number of medicines consumed), and we encourage helpline providers to use their enquiry data to conduct local projects to improve hospital services (e.g., reducing errors).

Registration: PROSPERO CRD42018116276
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Hospital Pharmacy
Early online date31 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • systematic review
  • patient medicines helplines
  • National Health Service
  • Medicines information
  • Drug information
  • Hospital pharmacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy

Cite this

@article{774b726e1771490c9dd6865c6f8e71c5,
title = "A systematic review examining the characteristics of users of NHS patient medicines helpline services, and the types of enquiries they make",
abstract = "Background and objective: Patient medicines helpline services (PMHS) are available from some National Health Service Trusts in the United Kingdom to support patients following discharge. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the available evidence regarding the characteristics of enquirers and enquiries to PMHS, in order to develop recommendations for service improvement.Methods: Searches were conducted using Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus, and Web of Science, on 4th June 2019. Forward and backward citation searches were conducted, and grey literature was searched. Studies were included if they reported any characteristics of enquirers who use PMHS, and/or enquiries received. Study quality was assessed using the AXIS tool. A narrative synthesis was conducted, and where appropriate, weighted means (WM) were calculated. Where possible, outcomes were compared to Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data for England, to establish whether the profile of helpline users may differ to that of hospital patients.Results: Nineteen studies were included (~ 4423 enquiries). Risk of bias from assessed studies was 71{\%}. Enquirers were predominantly female (WM = 53{\%}; HES mean = 57{\%}), elderly (WM = 69 years; HES mean = 53 years), and enquired regarding themselves (WM = 72{\%}). Out of inpatient and outpatient enquirers, 50{\%} were inpatients and 50{\%} were outpatients (WM). Six of fourteen studies reported adverse effects as the main enquiry reason. Two of four studies reported antimicrobial drugs as the main enquiry drug class. From two studies, the main clinical origin of enquiries were general surgery and cardiology. Across six studies, 27{\%} (WM) of enquiries concerned medicines-related errors.Conclusions: Our findings show that PMHS are often used by elderly patients, which is important since this group may be particularly vulnerable to experiencing medicines-related issues following hospital discharge. Over a quarter of enquiries to PMHS may concern medicines-related errors, suggesting that addressing such errors is an important function of this service. However, our study findings may be limited by a high risk of bias within included studies. Further research could provide a more detailed profile of helpline users (e.g., ethnicity, average number of medicines consumed), and we encourage helpline providers to use their enquiry data to conduct local projects to improve hospital services (e.g., reducing errors).Registration: PROSPERO CRD42018116276",
keywords = "systematic review, patient medicines helplines, National Health Service, Medicines information, Drug information, Hospital pharmacy",
author = "Matt Williams and Abbie Jordan and Jenny Scott and Matthew Jones",
year = "2019",
month = "10",
day = "31",
doi = "10.1136/ejhpharm-2019-002001",
language = "English",
journal = "European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy",
issn = "2047-9956",
publisher = "European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP)",

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T1 - A systematic review examining the characteristics of users of NHS patient medicines helpline services, and the types of enquiries they make

AU - Williams, Matt

AU - Jordan, Abbie

AU - Scott, Jenny

AU - Jones, Matthew

PY - 2019/10/31

Y1 - 2019/10/31

N2 - Background and objective: Patient medicines helpline services (PMHS) are available from some National Health Service Trusts in the United Kingdom to support patients following discharge. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the available evidence regarding the characteristics of enquirers and enquiries to PMHS, in order to develop recommendations for service improvement.Methods: Searches were conducted using Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus, and Web of Science, on 4th June 2019. Forward and backward citation searches were conducted, and grey literature was searched. Studies were included if they reported any characteristics of enquirers who use PMHS, and/or enquiries received. Study quality was assessed using the AXIS tool. A narrative synthesis was conducted, and where appropriate, weighted means (WM) were calculated. Where possible, outcomes were compared to Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data for England, to establish whether the profile of helpline users may differ to that of hospital patients.Results: Nineteen studies were included (~ 4423 enquiries). Risk of bias from assessed studies was 71%. Enquirers were predominantly female (WM = 53%; HES mean = 57%), elderly (WM = 69 years; HES mean = 53 years), and enquired regarding themselves (WM = 72%). Out of inpatient and outpatient enquirers, 50% were inpatients and 50% were outpatients (WM). Six of fourteen studies reported adverse effects as the main enquiry reason. Two of four studies reported antimicrobial drugs as the main enquiry drug class. From two studies, the main clinical origin of enquiries were general surgery and cardiology. Across six studies, 27% (WM) of enquiries concerned medicines-related errors.Conclusions: Our findings show that PMHS are often used by elderly patients, which is important since this group may be particularly vulnerable to experiencing medicines-related issues following hospital discharge. Over a quarter of enquiries to PMHS may concern medicines-related errors, suggesting that addressing such errors is an important function of this service. However, our study findings may be limited by a high risk of bias within included studies. Further research could provide a more detailed profile of helpline users (e.g., ethnicity, average number of medicines consumed), and we encourage helpline providers to use their enquiry data to conduct local projects to improve hospital services (e.g., reducing errors).Registration: PROSPERO CRD42018116276

AB - Background and objective: Patient medicines helpline services (PMHS) are available from some National Health Service Trusts in the United Kingdom to support patients following discharge. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the available evidence regarding the characteristics of enquirers and enquiries to PMHS, in order to develop recommendations for service improvement.Methods: Searches were conducted using Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus, and Web of Science, on 4th June 2019. Forward and backward citation searches were conducted, and grey literature was searched. Studies were included if they reported any characteristics of enquirers who use PMHS, and/or enquiries received. Study quality was assessed using the AXIS tool. A narrative synthesis was conducted, and where appropriate, weighted means (WM) were calculated. Where possible, outcomes were compared to Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data for England, to establish whether the profile of helpline users may differ to that of hospital patients.Results: Nineteen studies were included (~ 4423 enquiries). Risk of bias from assessed studies was 71%. Enquirers were predominantly female (WM = 53%; HES mean = 57%), elderly (WM = 69 years; HES mean = 53 years), and enquired regarding themselves (WM = 72%). Out of inpatient and outpatient enquirers, 50% were inpatients and 50% were outpatients (WM). Six of fourteen studies reported adverse effects as the main enquiry reason. Two of four studies reported antimicrobial drugs as the main enquiry drug class. From two studies, the main clinical origin of enquiries were general surgery and cardiology. Across six studies, 27% (WM) of enquiries concerned medicines-related errors.Conclusions: Our findings show that PMHS are often used by elderly patients, which is important since this group may be particularly vulnerable to experiencing medicines-related issues following hospital discharge. Over a quarter of enquiries to PMHS may concern medicines-related errors, suggesting that addressing such errors is an important function of this service. However, our study findings may be limited by a high risk of bias within included studies. Further research could provide a more detailed profile of helpline users (e.g., ethnicity, average number of medicines consumed), and we encourage helpline providers to use their enquiry data to conduct local projects to improve hospital services (e.g., reducing errors).Registration: PROSPERO CRD42018116276

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KW - patient medicines helplines

KW - National Health Service

KW - Medicines information

KW - Drug information

KW - Hospital pharmacy

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JO - European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy

JF - European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy

SN - 2047-9956

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