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A scoping review of non-professional medication practices and medication safety outcomes during public health emergencies.

Kelly, Dervla; Koay, Aaron; Mineva, Gabriela; Volz, Monika; McCool, Aoibhin; McLoughlin, Eavan; Ó Conluain, Ruán; Sharma, Manuj; Kerr, Aisling; Franklin, Bryony Dean; Grimes, Tamasine


Dervla Kelly

Aaron Koay

Gabriela Mineva

Monika Volz

Aoibhin McCool

Eavan McLoughlin

Ruán Ó Conluain

Manuj Sharma

Aisling Kerr

Bryony Dean Franklin

Tamasine Grimes


Public health emergencies (PHE) can disrupt personal medication practices and increase the risk of medication-related harm and other negative medication-related outcomes. Our aim was to examine the extent and nature of published research on this topic to guide future research and practice. The study took the form of a scoping review. Standard electronic databases were searched. PRISMA-ScR guidelines were followed. Extracted data were organised in response to review questions and narrative accounts developed. A total of 129 studies were included, conducted across 32 countries, mostly in the USA (n = 42). Sixty-eight (53%) reported on infectious events, 49 (39%) climatological or ecological events and the remainder a mixture of terrorism, war or other disasters. The studies described several medication safety outcomes (medication-related harm, adherence, supply) and adaptive medication practices (self-altering prescribed medications, sharing medications and changing healthcare providers). Challenges to maintaining routine medication practices during a PHE included transport, finance, quarantine and knowledge-related issues. Twenty-eight studies (22%) examined health inequalities pertaining to adverse medication-related outcomes, with findings suggesting that gender, age, ethnicity, educational and socio-economic status may be related to inequalities. Research gaps identified included carers', children's and minority communities' experiences and intervention studies. There is considerable evidence of disruptions to routine personal medication practices during PHEs and of medication-related harm and other negative outcomes. Maintaining medication supply for the management of chronic conditions is a universal problem across all emergency types. Research is needed to address these disruptions, particularly amongst people who experience health inequalities who may need additional support.


KELLY, D., KOAY, A., MINEVA, G., VOLZ, M., MCCOOL, A., MCLOUGHLIN, E., Ó CONLUAIN, R., SHARMA, M., KERR, A., FRANKLIN, B.D. and GRIMES, T. 2022. A scoping review of non-professional medication practices and medication safety outcomes during public health emergencies. Public health [online], 214, pages 50-60. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 18, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 13, 2022
Publication Date Jan 31, 2023
Deposit Date Jan 9, 2023
Publicly Available Date Dec 14, 2023
Journal Public health
Print ISSN 0033-3506
Electronic ISSN 1476-5616
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 214
Pages 50-60
Keywords Medication safety; Public health emergency; Medication-related harm; Medication adherence
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