Document Type : Original Article
Health Services Management Research Center, Institute for Futures Studies in Health, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran
Research Center for Modeling in Health, Institute for Futures Studies in Health, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran
Physiology Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran
National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
The World Health Organization (WHO) aims to promote strategies that ensure efficacy, safety, suitability, and cost effectiveness of medicine prescription. Health systems should design effective mechanisms to monitor prescription and rational use of medicines at all healthcare settings. This study aimed to determine and analyze prescription patterns of general practitioners and specialists in Kerman/Iran from 2005 to 2015.
This is an explanatory mixed method study. Data were gathered during two phases. At the first phase, prescriptions issued by physicians during 2005-2015 were reviewed to extract information required to develop eight main prescription indicators. In the second phase, the indicators trends were presented to experts participating in expert panel to have their opinions and analyses on the data obtained in the first phase. Experts were selected based on their experience and expertise in medicine and/or health policy and/or experience in implementation of polices to promote rational use of medicines. Some experts attending the panel were a sample of physicians whose prescriptions were included in the first phase.
Findings revealed that two indicators of the average price of prescriptions and the maximum number of medicines in each prescription had an increasing trend over the study period. Reasons including unprecedented devaluation of the Iranian Rial and willingness of young physicians to prescribe more medications were proposed as the primary contributors to the observed increasing trends. However, other indicators including types of prescribed medicines, average number of medicines per prescription, the percentage of prescriptions with more than four medications, a percentage of encounters with a corticosteroid prescribed, a percentage of encounters with an antibiotic prescribed, and a percentage of encounters with an injection prescribed decreased in the study period. Reasons of controlling initiatives adopted by the Ministry of Health, the higher responsibility of physicians, adoption of continued medical education (CME) programs, and improved knowledge of pharmacists, physicians, and patients about irrational use of medicines were proposed by participants as the main reasons for the decreasing trend.
Findings indicated that prescription indicators were better in Kerman than those of country average over the study period based on comparing the results of this study and others in Iran. However, they were non-desirable when compared to the international average. The number of factors contributes to the irrational use of medicines, including lack of knowledge among healthcare providers and patients, patients’ misunderstanding about the efficacy of some particular medicines, the high cost of drug development and manufacturing, and unavailability of effective medicines.