Many Patients Unaware of Driving Impairments Associated With Medications

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Not all patients using prescription drugs receive driving impairment warnings.
Not all patients using prescription drugs receive driving impairment warnings.

HealthDay News — Not all prescription drug users report receiving warnings about driving impairment, according to a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Robin A. Pollini, PhD, MPH, from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Calverton, Maryland, and colleagues obtained data from drivers randomly selected at 60 sites who completed the National Roadside Survey, which included questions on their use of prescription medications. A total of 7405 drivers completed the prescription drug portion of the survey.

The researchers found that 19.7% of the drivers reported recent use of a potentially impairing prescription drug; 78.2% reported that the drug had been prescribed for their use. 

The likelihood of reporting having received information about potential impairment was highest for users of prescribed sedatives (85.8%) and narcotics (85.1%) and was lower for users of prescribed stimulant and antidepressant medications (57.7% and 62.6%, respectively). There was variation in receipt of warnings by sex, race/ethnicity, income, geographic region, and time of day. For most drug categories, drivers who reported receiving warnings had significantly higher odds of perceived risk of impaired driving/crash and criminal justice involvement.

"Our study provides evidence of missed opportunities for information provision on impaired driving, identifies subgroups that may warrant enhanced interventions, and provides preliminary evidence that receipt of impairment warnings is associated with increased perceptions of driving-related risk," the authors write.

Reference

Pollini RA, Waehrer G, Kelley-Baker T. Receipt of warnings regarding potentially impairing prescription medications and associated risk perceptions in a national sample of US drivers. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2017;;78(6):805-813.

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