Polypharmacy and the Senior Citizen: A Qualitative Study on the Influence of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising

Polypharmacy and the Senior Citizen: A Qualitative Study on the Influence of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising

Author: 
Linda Sperling
Program of study: 
D.H.A.
Abstract: 
The inappropriate use of prescription drugs by the elderly contributes to the risk of polypharmacy. Polypharmacy can lead to poor medication compliance and an increased risk for adverse drug-to-drug interactions that may eventually lead to the death of the individual. Two areas addressed in this research study included the pharmaceutical industry’s influence on consumer decisions to ask a physician for a particular medication and the effect direct-to-consumer advertising had on the behaviors of the consumer. The specific problem addressed in this qualitative phenomenological study is the role direct-to-consumer advertising had on the influence of polypharmacy. A qualitative method was chosen for this study to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon of polypharmacy through open-ended interview questions and field notes. The phenomenological approach focused on how individuals perceived their lived experiences regarding the issue of polypharmacy. The data was analyzed using NVivo 10 computer software. Four core themes emerged from this study: professional trust, professional knowledge, communication deficit, and direct-to-consumer advertising. The findings from this research study showed that 66.6% of the participants had complete trust in their physician’s decisions regarding their health care. This study also exhibited a significant communication deficit between the patient and the physician. Consumers are becoming wiser with modern technology at their fingertips. The consumers are searching for a higher level of ownership regarding their health care and are seeking more of a partnership-type of relationship with their physicians.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated to my wonderful husband Eddie Sperling. His devotion and commitment to my success was never ending. He is my best friend. His strength has pushed me to reach the top of the mountain. His love and encouragement has made this journey possible. To my children, Christopher, Aaron, Gerald, Danielle, and Donna who often did not have the attention they deserved because of the long hours I had to spend on this journey. I only pray that my dedication to my dream will only encourage them to follow theirs. To my parents who have left me long before their time. I know as you look down from above that you are smiling and proud. Because of you, I am who I am today.
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to thank my dear friend, Bonnie Newton, who through her ideas and in sharing of her own story was the inspiration that started this study. Thank you Bonnie for all the hours you spent helping me with editing. I would like to thank Dr. Sharene Garaman for the long hours she spent helping me narrow down my topic, editing, and mentoring me through chapters one through three. I would also like to thank Kathleen Garaty and all the residents of the Valley Community Center in Southern California, (the name has been changed to maintain anonymity) who volunteered their time to help me complete my study. To my dear friend Dr. Lisa Henderson, who traveled with me through this journey, from beginning to end, encouraging me as we climbed this dissertation mountain together. We met in residency one and will remain lifetime friends. To my dear friend of 33 years, Shannon Mangigian, thank you for your encouragement and unending love and support through the years. I can’t wait to celebrate you. To Shirley Glass, thank you for loving me and being there for me. Thank you for your constant uplifting spirit. You mean the world to me. Keith Edmonds, my admissions counselor, you have inspired me, encouraged me, believed in me, celebrated my every success, and shared grandchildren stories with me, I will never forget you. I especially thank Dr. Martine Bates Sharp for her carrying me over the finish line. Thank you for your patience, kindness, support, and encouragement. I would like to thank my committee members Dr. James Ziegler and Dr. Kathryn Grant for all the help and encouragement they provided in getting me through the process and for being there for me.