Knowledge, attitudes and practices of UK paramedics regarding pharmacology and the legal, management and administration aspects of medicines: a cross-sectional online quantitative survey

Samantha Laws, Chao Wang, Mary Halter
British paramedic journal 2020 September 1, 5 (2): 1-9

Introduction: Changes in the paramedic profession have seen an increased range of medicines available within UK ambulances services. However, poor practice in medicines management has been identified by the Care Quality Commission. Literature in this area is sparse. This study aimed to determine the perceived knowledge, attitudes and practices of paramedics regarding pharmacology and the legal and regulatory issues of medicines management and administration.

Methods: The study utilised a cross-sectional survey design, administering an anonymous online survey to all (approximately 1000) paramedics within one UK NHS ambulance trust. The survey focused on paramedic knowledge on pharmacology, legal supply and administration; self-assessment of knowledge and confidence related to medicine management and administration; and personal characteristics. The primary outcome was percentage of (pre-determined) correct answers.

Results: 251 responses were received. The mean percentage of correct answers was 79.0% (SD 10.0), with variation by question observed, from 34.7 to 97.2% correct responses. A higher correct knowledge was associated with: higher self-rated confidence, lower self-reported knowledge, being less likely to report errors and higher education-based initial route into the paramedic profession.

Conclusion: This single-site UK-based survey highlighted variation in medicines knowledge among self-selecting paramedic respondents. The results indicate a need for medicines-specific further education for all paramedics, particularly those who have not experienced longer formal education entry routes, integrating a focus on confidence and self-perceived knowledge, and enhancing and embedding integrated improvement strategies. Further research is required with larger, multi-site samples, and to evaluate the impact of education packages developed.

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