Educating and informing patients receiving psychopharmacological medications: Are family physicians in Pakistan up to the task?

Hammad Ashraf Ganatra, Hadi Bhurgri, Roomasa Channa, Fauzia Ahmad Bawany, Syed Nabeel Zafar, Rafia Ishfaq Chaudhry, Syeda Hina Batool, Abdul Basit, Mehmood Asghar, Sarah Saleem, Haider Naqvi

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Studies have shown a high prevalence of psychiatric illnesses among patients in primary health care settings. Family physicians have a fundamental role in managing psychiatric illness with psychopharmacological medications. Providing information about the disease, its management and the potential adverse effects of the medications is an important part of the management of mental illnesses. Our objective was to determine if patients who were prescribed psychopharmacological drugs by family physicians at a community health center in Karachi, Pakistan were provided adequate education about their disease and its management. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at the Community Health Centre (CHC), Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi, Pakistan. Details about the prescriptions and patient education were acquired from the patients after their consultations. Results: A total of 354 adult patients were interviewed during 3 days. Among them, 73 (20.6%) were prescribed psychopharmacological medications. Among patients receiving psychopharmacological medicines, 37 (50.7%) did not know their diagnosis; 50 (68.5%) were unaware of the disease process; 52 (71.2%) were unaware of alternative treatments; 63 (86.3%) were not cautioned about the potential adverse effects of the drugs; 24 (32.9%) were unaware of the duration of treatment and in 60 (82.2%) of the participants an appropriate referral had not been discussed. For all aspects of education, patients prescribed psychopharmacological medications knew less as compared to those patients that were prescribed other medications. Discussion: The practice of imparting information to patients who receive psychopharmacological medications seems to be inadequate in Pakistan. We have hypothesized about the possible reasons for our findings, and identified a need for further research to determine the cause for such findings and to address them accordingly. At the same time there is a need to educate family physicians in Pakistan about the special importance of providing adequate information to such patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4620
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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