Researchers call for clarity on the definition of medicine misuse


Medicine misuse is a public health issue, but the term has different meanings to people in different settings. A recent analysis of published studies provides a comprehensive overview of the terms and definitions used to characterize medicine misuse. The findings are published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Among 51 relevant studies, there were 71 definitions and 74 examples of misuse. The authors of the analysis noted that a certain confusion has reigned between misuse, abuse, and medication errors, with a clear need for classifying and selecting terms and definitions to understand which situations truly involve medicine misuse.

“A novel, consensual and standardised definition of medicine misuse is required,” the authors wrote. “Such a taxonomy could include the different key elements highlighted in the present review, namely initiator, intent, purpose and context of medicine misuse.”