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Self-administration of medicine (SAM) programmes for hospital in-patients have become increasingly popular Such programmes are considered to facilitate education and learning A quasi-experimental, longitudinal study was carried out to examine and compare knowledge acquisition, drug compliance, and satisfaction between patients who self-administered their medications and those who did not Improvements in knowledge and compliance with medication regimes could not be linked directly with a SAM programme All patients had a high level of knowledge of their medications and appeared to be compliant with prescribed drug regimes Study findings support the hypothesis that knowledge improves with time, regardless of how medications are administered, but do not support the hypothesis that patients who self-administrate are more knowledgeable about their medications than those who do not Therefore, SAM programmes may improve patient knowledge but opportunities to obtain knowledge may not be unique to such programmes The ward or unit philosophy may be such that other patients, who are less willing or able to participate directly in their own care, also have the opportunity to improve their knowledge