Drug prescribing practices among primary healthcare providers in a local government area of Northwestern Nigeria
Oguntunde, Olugbenga Olalere
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Background: Drugs are essential components of the health system and their rational use is vital to delivering quality and efficient healthcare services. However, inappropriate prescribing is a common rational drug use problem globally, particularly in developing countries including Nigeria. Despite measures to address this problem, inappropriate drug use continues to be a major public health problem in Nigeria. Aim: This study assessed rational drug use (RDU), with a focus on rational prescribing and factors affecting it, among primary healthcare providers working in primary healthcare facilities of a LGA in Northwestern Nigeria. Methods: The study was a cross sectional descriptive study and it included retrospective review of patient encounters and interviews with prescribing healthcare providers in sampled health facilities. Stratified random sampling method was used to select 20 public primary healthcare facilities and 30 patient encounters were drawn by systematic random sampling from each facility. One hundred and sixty three prescribing healthcare providers in the health facilities were also included in the study. Adapted WHO's drug use study tools and a structured self-administered questionnaire were used to collect data. Data were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS Version 17) software and presented as contingency table with chi square test used to test for relationship between variables with statistical significance taken at p < 0.05. Ethical approval was obtained from the University of the Western Cape Research Ethics Committee and Kaduna State Ministry of Health, and permission from local stakeholders. Confidentiality of individual patients, healthcare providers and health facilities data was maintained. Results: The prescribing staff at the selected facilities were predominantly Nurses/Midwives and community health assistants with SCHEWs constituting the majority (60.8%). More than half (54.4%) of providers did not know about the concept of RDU. Similarly, the computed knowledge score of RDU revealed that the majority (74.4%) had poor knowledge of the concept. Knowledge was significantly associated with duration of service, providers' previous training in rational drug use and professional status (p<0.05), with the CHOs having better knowledge of RDU compared with other professional cadres. High antibiotic use (68.3% in retrospective review and 82.9% in survey) and injection use (9.5% in retrospective review and 12% in survey) were found in the study with significant proportions of providers admitting that all cases of URTI should receive antibiotics (72.3% ) and that patients could be prescribed injections if they requested for it (35.3%). The Standing Order was the main source of information for the majority (50.6%) of providers and it served as the major influence affecting prescribing practices. Conclusion: This study revealed a poor understanding and knowledge of RDU among healthcare providers. High antibiotic and injection use also reflected providers' poor attitude to rational prescribing of these commodities. To improve prescribing practices at the PHC level, adequate staff skill mix, including physicians should be established. Since RDU knowledge was associated with prior training, curriculum development towards RDU and opportunities for in-service training should be provided to build prescribers capacity, in addition to instituting a system of rational drug use monitoring. Further research into rational drug use among different cadres of PHC healthcare providers is also recommended.