Diversity & Equality in Health and Care Open Access

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Cultural minority older women�??s attitudes towards medication and implications for adherence to a medicine regimen

Philippe Voyer

The effectiveness of medication depends, in part, on taking it according to the instructions given. However, 30–50% of seniors do not comply with these instructions. This may be due to a number of factors one of which is individuals’ attitudes toward medications. Researchers have rarely explored these attitudes, especially among populations from diverse cultural backgrounds. The goal of this study was to explore the beliefs, practices, and attitudes held by older Canadian women from four different cultural groups toward prescription medications, natural remedies, and physicians. A descriptive study employing a qualitative design was conducted based on a sample of older women. In-depth interviews were conducted with Aboriginal Canadians (n = 9), Vietnamese Canadians (n = 5), Haitian Canadians (n = 10) and Portuguese Canadians (n = 10). Findings showed that attitudes toward prescription medications, natural remedies, and physicians differed considerably among the cultural groups studied. Aboriginal and Vietnamese Canadian participants mostly held a negative perception of prescription medications. In contrast, Haitian Canadians were very positive about prescription medications, while Portuguese participants were ambivalent. With regard to natural remedies, Aboriginal and Vietnamese Canadians displayed positive attitudes about them, while Haitian and Portuguese older women were quite indifferent. Finally, Aboriginal and Vietnamese Canadians had important reservations about physician competency, but the opposite was found among Haitian and Portuguese women who held physicians in high esteem. This study indicates that nurses must address differences in cultural beliefs, values, and attitudes when educating patients about prescription medicines, natural remedies, and physicians. A positive attitude toward natural remedies may imply that patients use these substances more frequently, which has significant implications for interactions between prescribed medicine and natural remedies. Accordingly, older women who have important reservations about physicians may put their health at risk by waiting too long before consulting their healthcare providers.