Improving Safe Use of Medications During Pregnancy: The Roles of Patients, Physicians, and Pharmacists

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Abstract

Our study sought to explore the actual and potential roles of patients, physicians, and pharmacists, as well as their shared challenges and opportunities, in improving the safety of medication use during pregnancy. We conducted virtual focus groups with 48 women and in-depth interviews with nine physicians and five pharmacists. Qualitative analysis revealed that all three groups of participants reported “playing it safe,” the need for an engaged patient making informed decisions, challenges surrounding communication about pregnancy status, and a lack of patient-centric resources. Patients, physicians, and pharmacists are highly motivated to protect developing babies from potential harms of medication use during pregnancy while maintaining the patient’s health. Strategic messaging could maximize the effectiveness of these interactions by helping physicians discuss the benefits and risks of medication use during pregnancy, pharmacists screen for pregnancy and counsel on medication safety, and patients using medications to share pregnancy intentions with their providers pre-pregnancy.

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