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Community Medication Safety Research

About the research

The Community Medication Safety research was led by Community Development and Health Network (CDHN) and commissioned by the DoH Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG) (formerly HSCB) as part of the Transforming Medication Safety in Northern Ireland plan (TMSNI).

The aim of the research was to Discover the social circumstances behind unsafe medication practices and avoidable medication-related harm to inform the implementation of the Transforming Medication Safety in NI plan using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach.  

This exploratory research was the first research of its kind in Northern Ireland which addresses the literature gap on the social circumstances which impact medication safety. Using a participatory methodology, the research successfully gathered people’s lived experiences on medication use by engaging with and involving communities in the research design, delivery, and analysis of the findings.   

The research is now complete and the report entitled “Our Lives, Our Meds, Our Health: Exploring Medication Safety though a Social Lens” will be launched on 16 June 2023.  To register to attend, please click here


In September 2020, the Department of Health launched a five-year strategic plan to transform medication safety in NI. Transforming Medication Safety in Northern Ireland was produced collaboratively with healthcare professionals and service users from across Northern Ireland in response to the World Health Organisation’s Third Global Patient Safety Challenge ‘Medication without Harm’.

Medicines are the most commonly used medical intervention in NI. At any one time, 70% of people take prescribed or over the counter medicines to treat or prevent ill health. It is estimated that every year in NI, 11.7million medication errors occur. In comparison with other UK countries, the volume and cost of medicines used per head of population in NI is historically higher.[1]  In 2020/21 in NI, the number of prescription items dispensed was over 50% higher in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived.[2] This research will explore medication safety through a social determinants of health lens. Evidence has shown that social circumstances have a bigger impact on people’s health than genetic makeup or lifestyle behaviours.

The findings of this research will help address health inequalities that may arise with medicines use in current and future services. The evidence will also be used in the planning and implementation of the medication safety plan by identifying potential solutions to support the future roll out of Medication Safety communications campaign including the Know, Check, Ask Medication Safety Campaign, awareness raising for patients and public, staff training and any additional guidance or information. 

If you would like to find out more about the work, contact:

Helen McNamee, Research and Policy Manager


T: 028 3026 4606


[1] DHSSPS (2016) Northern Ireland Medicines Optimisation Quality Framework