Objective: To (a) characterise medication use and knowledge, according to Indigenous status, and (b) identify independent correlates of medication knowledge in a sample of adult prisoners.
Methods: Cross-sectional survey of 1,231 adult prisoners in Queensland, interviewed within six weeks of release. Measures included self-reported demographic and health-related characteristics, self-reported use of medications, the Hayes Ability Screening Index (HASI) and the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36). Objective medication data were abstracted from prison medical records. A medication knowledge score was calculated to reflect the agreement between self-reported and objective medication use.
Results: 46% of participants were taking at least one medication. The most common class of medication was Central Nervous System (30% of participants). Medication knowledge was generally poor, with one quarter of prisoners unable to accurately identify any of their medications. Independent correlates of poor medication knowledge included not taking Central Nervous System medications, identifying as Indigenous and age >54.
Conclusions and Implications: Around half prisoners are taking medications in prison, but most have poor knowledge of what these medications are. Medication knowledge is associated with better adherence and may contribute to improved health outcomes post-release. Changes to prescribing and dispensing practices in prison may improve medication knowledge and health outcomes in this profoundly marginalised group.