Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs toward polypharmacy among older people attending Family Medicine Clinic, Nairobi, Kenya

Maureen Kamau, Njeri Nyanja, Adelaide M. Lusambili, Jacob Shabani, Gulnaz Mohamoud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Life expectancy has increased over the last century among older people, particularly those aged over 60 years. Aging is associated with increased disability, multiple chronic conditions, and increased use of health services managed with polypharmacy. There are few studies on polypharmacy and aging in sub-Saharan Africa, and it is unclear what older people know and their attitudes toward polypharmacy. This paper presents findings from a study that aimed to understand older people’s knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about polypharmacy. Methods: A qualitative study using in-depth interviews of 15 patients aged 60 years and older who were taking more than five medications per day. The study was conducted at the Family Medicine Clinic (FMC), Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi. Data were analyzed using NVivo 12 software. Result: Majority of participants had a good understanding of their underlying health conditions, but they did not know the specific names of the medications they were taking. Participants had diverse attitudes toward polypharmacy, with both positive and negative perceptions. Although adverse side effects were reported, participants remained positive because they believed these medicines were beneficial. Religion, faith and living healthy lifestyles were perceived to contribute to their positive attitude toward polypharmacy. Stigma and the cost of medication were reported as barriers. Conclusion: This study provides valuable insights into the complexities of polypharmacy in older people. It highlights the importance of patient education, fostering strong patient-provider relationships, de-stigmatization, and improving medication affordability and accessibility. Further research could explore the polypharmacy of older people attending public institutions in rural Kenya.

Original languageEnglish
Article number132
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024


  • Attitudes
  • Beliefs
  • Knowledge
  • Older people
  • Polypharmacy
  • Sub-saharan Africa


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