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Stroke survivors', caregivers' and GPs' attitudes towards a polypill for the secondary prevention of stroke: a qualitative interview study
  1. James Jamison1,
  2. Jonathan Graffy2,
  3. Ricky Mullis3,
  4. Jonathan Mant3,
  5. Stephen Sutton1
  1. 1Behavioural Science Group, Primary Care Unit, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Primary Care Unit, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge, UK
  3. 3Primary Care Unit, University of Cambridge, Strangeways Research Laboratory, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to James Jamison; jj285{at}


Objectives To understand the perspectives of stroke survivors, caregivers and general practitioners (GPs) on a polypill approach, consisting of blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering therapies, with or without aspirin, for the secondary prevention of stroke.

Methods A qualitative interview study was undertaken in 5 GP surgeries in the East of England. 28 survivors of stroke/transient ischaemic attack (TIA) were interviewed, 14 of them with a caregiver present, along with a convenience sample of 5 GPs, to assess attitudes towards a polypill and future use. Topic guides explored participants attitudes, potential uptake and long-term use, management of polypill medication and factors influencing the decision to prescribe. Data were analysed using a grounded theory approach. Key themes are presented and illustrated with verbatim quotes.

Results The analysis identified 3 key themes: polypill benefits, polypill concerns and polypill lessons for implementation. Stroke/TIA survivors were positive about the polypill concept and considered it acceptable in the secondary prevention of stroke. Perceived benefits of a polypill included convenience resulting in improved adherence and reduced burden of treatment. Caregivers felt that a polypill would improve medication-taking practices, and GPs were open to prescribing it to those at increased cardiovascular risk. However, concerns raised included whether a polypill provided equivalent therapeutic benefit, side effects through combining medications, consequences of non-adherence, lack of flexibility in regulating dosage, disruption to current treatment and suitability to the wider stroke population.

Conclusions Participants acknowledged potential advantages in a polypill approach for secondary prevention of stroke; however, significant concerns remain. Further research on the efficacy of a polypill is needed to reassure practitioners whose concerns around inflexibility and treatment suitability are likely to influence the decision to prescribe a polypill for secondary prevention of stroke. Acceptability among survivors, caregivers and GPs is likely to determine the uptake and subsequent use of a polypill in the future.


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