Let's Talk About Medicines Workshops

Misunderstanding dosage instructions can lead to serious health consequences, including adverse drug events (ADEs). ADEs are responsible for 3.6 million office visits per year, 700,000 emergency room visits, and 117,000 hospitalizations. Seniors are at a significantly greater risk of misunderstanding drug labels and misusing medications than other age groups.

With that in mind, Wisconsin Health Literacy, through grants from the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation and Security Health Plan, developed and delivered almost 80 one-hour interactive workshops on medication use to adults, especially seniors and English Language Learners throughout the state of Wisconsin.

Participants learned how to safely and effectively use medication, which can lead to better health. The workshop topics included: understanding the main parts of a prescription medicine label, how to read and interpret special instructions on the label, types of containers and labels for solid and liquid medicines, dosage instructions and strategies to help remember to take one’s medicine, information about over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and how they may interact with other medicines and basic storage techniques.

Phase I of the project began in 2013 with a grant from the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation. Twelve workshops were delivered during a one-year time period to over 200 adults, seniors and English Language Learners. During this phase, we were able to gather feedback from participants about medication use, medication labels and barriers to medication. Based on that feedback, we made some revisions and implemented Phases II and III.

Phase II of this project was made possible through a grant from Security Health Plan to deliver 50 workshops to adults, seniors and English Language Learners within the 41 counties of its service area. In 2015, we reached approximately 700 participants in counties ranging in distance from Douglas to Pepin to Green to Forest, and several more in between.

Phase III of the project was made possible by a second grant from the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation, which enabled us to open the workshops to the rest of the counties in the state. Beginning in January 2015, this phase will be completed by the end of January 2016, when an additional 16 workshops will have been implemented.