Young people's use of medicines: Pharmaceuticalised governance and illness management within household and school settings
Social science & medicine
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Reason for embargo
Recent decades have witnessed a significant rise in the use and ‘misuse’ of pharmaceutical medicines. Without significant behavioural change, the adverse health and environmental impacts resulting from medicine misuse will be most felt by today's young people. Yet despite real concerns surrounding pharmaceutical sustainability, insights into the ways that understandings of, and expectations to take medicines are communicated to, and taken up by young people remain limited. This paper draws on research focused around everyday home and school settings, to examine how understandings and norms relating to medicine use become embedded within the lives of young people. Between May 2014–January 2015, fifty students (aged 11–14) from one secondary school in England participated in focus groups and forty-three in interviews. Two focus groups were held with parents (n = 10). Findings demonstrate that attitudes towards medicine use were bound up with notions of parental responsibility, risk, peer governance and social acceptability, labour-related expectations, and processes of regulation within the school. Indeed, it was clear that medication use was often a compromised solution in response to wider structural pressures and demands and that such thinking was embedded at an early stage in the life course. The study found that few opportunities arose for open and informed discussion relating to responsible medicine use. Such circumstances demonstrate that any attempts to change medicine-related attitudes and behaviours should be considered within the wider social and structural contexts that govern their use.
Available online 26 July 2016