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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The meaning of medication-taking : a qualitative study of the medication-taking of schizophrenic clients living in the community Porterfield, Patricia Ann


This study was designed to investigate clients' rationales for their health behaviors. Specifically, the study problem was to understand the subjective meaning of the medication-taking behavior of schizophrenic clients. Previous research on health behaviors had been particularly concerned with compliance, that is, "the extent to which patient behavior coincided with medical or health advice" (Haynes, Taylor, and Sackett 1979). Studies of compliance rarely included the clients' perspectives towards their health behaviors. Therefore the purpose of this study was to describe schizophrenic clients' medication-taking behaviors and their explanations for those behaviors within the context of'their everyday life. Eleven out-patients diagnosed as schizophrenic participated in the study, nine clients typifying a long-term client population and two clients typifying a short-term client population. All participants were prescribed oral anti-psychotic medication and lived in community settings in which they were responsible for their medication-taking. In the course of one or two interviews, each participant and the researcher constructed an account of the participant's medication-taking. Using content analysis, this data was then used to identify themes and concepts reflective of the participants' perspectives towards medication-taking. The presentation of this descriptive data was organized around five major content areas: medication-taking practises, current perspectives towards medication-taking, the context of medication-taking, the moral implications of medication-taking, and the influence of others on medication-taking.The participants' accounts of their medication-taking illustrate the importance of determining the clients' perspectives in order to understand and work with clients and their health behaviors. Current practise in health care advocates patient participation in the determination and management of therapeutic regimens such as medication-taking. The research data was also used in another way. The participants' accounts were compared to research and literature in the field of compliance, supporting or questioning various factors supposed relevant to schizophrenic clients' medication-taking. In providing this alternative perspective, the qualitative data illustrates the way in which previous conceptualizations of medication-taking as "compliance" influenced how client behavior was studied and hence understood. Based on the understanding of medication-taking developed in this study, implications for health care were discussed and suggestions for further research were made.

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