A cross-sectional survey of the access of older people in the Scottish Highlands to general medical practices, community pharmacies and prescription medicines

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Abstract

Background

Access to medicines and healthcare is more problematic in remote and rural areas.

Objectives

To quantify issues of access to general practitioners (GPs), community pharmacies and prescribed medicines in older people resident in the Scottish Highlands.

Methods

Anonymized questionnaires were mailed to a random sample of 2000 older people (≥60 years) resident in the Scottish Highlands. Questionnaire items were: access and convenience to GP and pharmacy services (10 items); prescribed medicines (13 items); attitudinal statements based on the Theoretical Domains Framework (12 items); quality of life (SF8, 8 items); and demographics (12 items). Results were analysed using descriptive, inferential and spatial statistics, and principal component analysis (PCA) of attitudinal items.

Results

With a response rate of 54.2%, the majority reported convenient access to GPs (89.1%) and community pharmacies (84.3%). Older age respondents (p < 0.0001) were more likely to state that their access to GP services was not convenient and those in rural areas to community pharmacies (p < 0.01). For access to prescribed medicines, those in poorer health (p < 0.001) and taking five or more regular prescribed medicines (p = 0.002) were more likely to state access not convenient. PCA identified three components of beliefs of capabilities, emotions and memory. Those with poorer health had more negative scores for all (p < 0.001). Those reporting issues of access to prescribed medicines had more negative scores for beliefs of capabilities (p < 0.001) while those of older age, living alone, and taking five or more regular prescribed medicines (all p < 0.001) had more negative scores for emotions.

Conclusion

While the majority of respondents have convenient access to their GP practice, pharmacy and prescribed medicines, there is a need for further review of the pharmaceutical care of those of older age with poorer health, living alone in the more remote and rural areas and taking five or more prescribed medicines.

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