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Table 1 Overview of codes, sub-themes and overarching themes

From: Prescription medicine sharing: exploring patients’ beliefs and experiences

Codes (specific categories) Code description Sub-theme Overarching theme
Pain, asthma and sleep medications, antibiotics, and so forth. Classes of medicines shared by participants NA Types of shared medicines
Avoid doctor visit Sharing avoids the need to visit a doctor Saves time and money Perceived benefits of sharing medicines
Avoid hidden costs Sharing avoid taking time off work or avoid inconveniencing work – avoids hidden cost
To avoid waste To avoid buying a packet when only need one dose or might not work
Convenience Sharing is more convenient, the medicines are readily available, no need to visit a GP
Emergency Sharing when someone is in great need of the medication or during emergency
To try the medicine To see if the medicine works before obtaining a personal supply
Misplacing medicines Misplacing own medicines and temporarily sharing other’s medicines
Common minor condition Sharing medicines when the patient perceives that the medical condition is minor
Caring relationship Sharing is a means of supporting each other during illness – caring relationship Social support
Inappropriate dose/wrong medicines Person takes inappropriate doses or wrong medicines Unsafe and ineffective treatment Negative experience from shared medicines
Adverse drug events Sharing might result in unanticipated side effects, drug interactions, allergy or contraindications
Expired medicines might be shared Expired medicines might be shared
Risk of killing/harming Sharing may have a risk of killing or harming a person
Topical medicines are weaker than orally ingested medicines Sharing topical medicines is not as risky as sharing pills – can be removed by washing
Loss of medication instruction Lack of information – e.g. borrower does not have information on risks, adverse outcomes, etc.
Medical condition get worse Sharing complicates simple medical conditions by delaying diagnosis and treatment
Misdiagnosis Sharing based on misdiagnosis could be dangerous
Unhygienic Sharing medicines (e.g., inhalers) is unhygienic Public health risk
Antimicrobial resistance Sharing might increase drug resistance
Spread infection Sharing creams/ointments might spread the disease – cross infection
Affects social relationship Sharing addictive medicines may affect one's personal relationship with others Risk of drug dependence
Dependence Sharing might result in drug dependence
To help a friend or family Sharing to help out others or to make someone feel better – caring relationship Altruism Factors influencing medicine sharing
Ran out Ran out of previously prescribed medicines
Cost Sharing saves doctor's fee, prescription charges, or cost of unsubsidised medicines Limited access to medicines/health services
Access Sharing when difficult to access medicines – for example prescription restriction and when pharmacy or doctors are inaccessible or where there is no nearby health facility
Waiting times Sharing medicines to avoid long appointment or waiting time at GP surgeries
‘After hours’ Sharing for pain occurring late at night or over the weekend – when a regular GP is not accessible
Traveling Sharing medicine during family trip, holiday trips or when traveling overseas
Forgetfulness Someone forgets to carry around their own medicines
Leftover medicines Having leftovers/unused medicines creates opportunity for sharing Leftover medicines
Lack of information about safe disposal Not knowing what to do with leftover or unused medicines
HCPs not mentioning not to share When patients do not receive information from health care providers about the risk of sharing
Cultural influence Cultural beliefs, family values and customs may influence medicine sharing Sociocultural factors
Embarrassment Embarrassment about seeing a doctor or embarrassed to carry around own medicines
Ads/Internet TV ads or the Internet encourages self-diagnosis and sharing medicines
Familiarity with the medical condition or the medicine Familiarity with the medical condition or the medicine– facilitates sharing Experience of, and knowledge about illness and its treatment Risk assessment strategy
Complex medical condition If the condition is complex – deterrent
Uniqueness of medication for the person Medicines meant for a specific condition are less likely to be shared
Unaware of risk Unaware of risk of sharing – facilitator
Perception of efficacy Assuming if the medicine worked for the lender it will do the same for the borrower
Perceived danger of medicine Concern about side effects – deterrent
Borrower’s responsibility Borrower decides and accepts responsibility for consequences Borrower’s responsibility
Same symptoms Having the same symptoms facilitates sharing Symptoms matching
Same medicines Attitude that taking similar medication as the other person might not have a negative effect on one’s health
  1. NA not applicable