Journal of Professional Nursing

Nurses Attitudes To and Knowledge of Medicines

Mary Bray, BSc, RN, RM, DIP Ed, Lecturer, Nursing and Midwifery Department Otago Polytechnic
Karabi Ghose, PhD (Lond), MRCP (UK), Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology, University of Otago Medical School

Reference:  Bray, M., Ghose, K. (1993). Nurses Attitudes To and Knowledge of Medicines. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 8(3), 19-23.


Nurses are often required o give information about prescribed medication to patients.  This study obtained information about the attitudes to, and knowledge of, prescribed medication from a group of 70 students and 24 registered nurses at the Otago Polytechnic.  A self-administered questionnaire, previously used in a community survey in Southampton, UK, was used for this purpose.  No significant difference between the two groups was observed.  Thirty three (35%) of all the responders kept their unused medicines, 19 (20%) disposed them in the household wastes and only 6 (6.3%) returned them to the pharmacist.  About 13 (14%) admitted taking medication prescribed for someone else and 16 (17%) allowed others to use their prescribed medication.  Out of the 51 responders who took a prescribed medicine in the past month, only 31 (61%) were aware of potential side effects.  Although it is reassuring to know that students and registered nurses are aware of potential problems related to taking medication, clearly there is considerable room for improvement.  This should include further information and appreciation of safe disposal methods, what to do if a dose is missed and the dangers of taking another person’s prescribed medications.

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