What patients think doctors know: Beliefs about provider knowledge as barriers to safe medication use

Marina Serper*, Danielle M. McCarthy, Rachel E. Patzer, Jennifer P. King, Stacy C. Bailey, Samuel G. Smith, Ruth M. Parker, Terry C. Davis, Daniela P. Ladner, Michael S. Wolf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: We examined patient beliefs about provider awareness of medication use, patient-reported prevalence and nature of provider counseling about medications, and the impact of health literacy on these outcomes. Methods: Structured interviews were conducted at academic general internal medicine clinics and federally qualified health centers with 500 adult patients. Interviewer-administered surveys assessed patients' beliefs, self-reported prevalence and nature of provider counseling for new prescriptions, and medication review. Results: Most patients believed their physician was aware of all their prescription and over the counter medications, and all medications prescribed by other doctors; while a minority reported disclosing over the counter and supplement use. Among those receiving new prescriptions (n= 190): 51.3% reported physician medication review, 77.4% reported receiving instructions on use from physicians and 43.3% from pharmacists. Side effects were discussed 42.9% of the time by physicians and 25.8% by pharmacists. Significant differences in outcomes were observed by health literacy, age, and clinic type. Conclusions: There is a sizable gap between what patients believe physicians know about their medication regimen and what they report to the physician. Practice implications: Discordance between patient beliefs and physician knowledge of medication regimens could negatively impact patient safety and healthcare quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-311
Number of pages6
JournalPatient education and counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Health literacy
  • Medication
  • Medications
  • Patient beliefs
  • Patient provider communication
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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