Are educational materials on medicinal products helpful to physicians?

Stephen Padilla
15 Sep 2021

Physicians in Singapore who had received educational materials perceive such communication tools as useful in raising awareness on safety concerns associated with medicinal products, reveals a study.

“The publication of educational materials on the Health Sciences Authority (HAS) website and encouraging more routine distribution of Patient Medication Guides (PMGs) by prescribers may improve their accessibility and facilitate safety communication on medicinal products to healthcare professionals and patients,” the researchers said.

In this study, invitations to an online survey were sent via email to 387 healthcare professionals who had recently purchased the 22 medicinal products with requirements for educational materials in Singapore. The survey covered the purchasers’ experiences with the receipt and usage of the materials and their preferences towards the types of content and distribution channels for these materials.

A total of 367 purchasers received the survey invitation, of whom 89 (24 percent) responded, including 66 who indicated that they had prescribed the surveyed products. Of the prescribers, only 47 percent recalled receiving the educational materials; the majority who had used these tools found them useful in their clinical practice. [Proc Singapore Healthc 2021;30:209-217]

The PMG, however, was used less frequently than the Physician Educational Materials (PEMs; 59 percent vs 96 percent). In addition, a mismatch was noted between current and preferred distribution methods (mostly hard copies vs electronic copies).

“The lower usage of PMGs compared to PEMs indicated that additional efforts should be made to encourage prescribers to distribute PMGs to their patients for reinforcing knowledge on treatment-associated adverse effects beyond the prescriber’s office,” the researchers said.

“Given the relatively low receipt rate, more effective dissemination methods for educational materials should be developed locally,” they added.

Of note, the relatively low receipt rate of educational materials reported by prescribers was similar to that reported in previous studies. However, this could indicate deficiencies in the distribution process or a recall bias. [Pharm Med 2017;31:339-351; Int Clin Psychopharmacol 2016;31:34-41]

“For example, educational materials delivered together with the products to the hospital pharmacy might not be distributed internally to the hospital-based prescribers,” the researchers said. “There could also be lapses in compliance by some pharmaceutical companies in distributing the most updated version of educational materials to all prescribers of each product.”

The current study focused on prescribers’ experiences and preferences concerning the educational materials, but the researchers acknowledged that pharmacists could also play a major role in effective patient education.

“The counselling and advice given by pharmacists complement and reinforce information provided by prescribers and other members of the healthcare team, thereby allowing patients to achieve maximum therapeutic benefit from their medications,” they said. [J Res Pharm Pract 2016;5:132-137]

“The interaction between pharmacists, prescribers, and PMGs in improving medication management could be explored in future studies,” the researchers added.

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