Patients' and medical practitioners' approaches to the use of prescribed steroids in asthma: the potential for informed choice


Stevenson, Fiona Anne 1997. Patients' and medical practitioners' approaches to the use of prescribed steroids in asthma: the potential for informed choice. Thesis
AuthorsStevenson, Fiona Anne
Qualification namePhD

Recent changes in legislation and access to information, through sources such as the media, may have influenced peoples' expectations for information about their prescribed medication. As a result, health care professionals may perceive an increased pressure to provide information. A case study approach was employed to examine the sources and scope of information patients draw upon when they are prescribed oral steroids for asthma. The aim was to examine the extent to which patients can be said to exercise an `informed choice' when they take prescribed medication. The role and importance of GPs (general practitioners) in informing the choices patients make was also examined. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed. Interviews conducted with both patients and GPs indicated `gaps' in understanding. Although the GP was the preferred source of information, patients reported that the choices they made were based on information from a range of sources. General practitioners justified not providing information to patients so as to `protect' patients from knowledge of side effects. However, there was some awareness of the range of sources of information used by patients. A vignette technique was employed to further investigate GPs' recognition and understanding of the range of sources of information patients' use to inform the choices they make. Approximately half of the GPs who responded to the vignette recognised the influences presented. General practitioners who had been practising for a shorter period of time were significantly more likely to recognise these influences. The conclusions draw on the literature of the sociology of the professions. In spite of the way in which the Government has sought to encourage patients to act as consumers, the state has also continued to endorse GPs right to make decisions concerning the level of information to provide. If GPs do not believe it is in the interests of patients to be provided with information to make choices about their medications then the information available to patients may be limited. This will have an impact on the ease with which patients may make `medically' informed choices about their prescribed medication. Only when the communication between patients and GPs improves, will it be possible for a relationship to develop where patients may be assured of gaining information from their GP at the level they feel is appropriate to enable them to make informed choices about their medication.

KeywordsAsthma; Oral steroids; Informed choice; Medical decision making; Patient perspective
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Web address (URL)hdl:10545/270555
File Access Level
File Access Level
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Feb 2013, 11:14
Publication dates1997
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