An exploration of attitudes and preferences towards medications among healthcare providers and persons with spinal cord injury/dysfunction: a qualitative comparison Academic Article uri icon

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  • PURPOSE: To compare the attitudes and preferences of persons with spinal cord injury/dysfunction (SCI/D) and healthcare providers regarding prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and natural health products (NHPs). MATERIALS AND METHODS: A qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews with healthcare providers (n = 32) and persons with SCI/D (n = 19) in Canada. Inductive descriptive and interpretive analyses were conducted using data display matrices and a constant comparative approach. RESULTS: Participants described differing perceptions of therapeutic benefits based on medication type, with shared attitudes about the therapeutic benefits of prescription medications and differing views about the effectiveness of NHPs. Despite the perceived effectiveness of prescription medications, persons with SCI/D preferred to avoid them due to concerns about side effects, safety, and stigma. Persons with SCI/D were often concerned about the long-term safety of prescription medications, whereas providers focused more on medication-related addictions. Participants discussed stigma relating to prescription medications, NHPs, and medicinal marijuana. CONCLUSION: Healthcare providers and persons with SCI/D described different attitudes about and preferences for pharmacotherapeutic products, contributing to challenges in optimizing medication management. Strategies to improve medication management include shared decision-making to incorporate patient preferences into care plans and explicit discussions about long-term medication safety. Further, steps are needed to combat the stigma associated with medication use.Implications for rehabilitationFollowing a person-centered approach to shared decision-making, prescribers should initiate explicit conversations about patient medication preferences, short and long-term prescription medication side effects, and alternative treatment options.Regarding prescription medication safety, persons with spinal cord injury/dysfunction focused on the long term impact of medications, while providers focused on medication-related addictions, highlighting a disconnect that should be discussed during initiation, continuation, or discontinuation of a medication.Providers should be mindful of the stigma associated with taking multiple prescription medications, including medicinal marijuana, as well as the stigma associated with over-the-counter medications and natural health products.Providers could benefit from education about spinal cord injury/dysfunction-specific prescription medications and could benefit from increased education about natural health products.


  • Everall, Amanda C
  • Cadel, Lauren
  • Lofters, Aisha K
  • Packer, Tanya L
  • Hitzig, Sander L
  • Patel, Tejal
  • Cimino, Stephanie R
  • Guilcher, Sara JT

publication date

  • April 10, 2022