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Charles Caley, PharmD, BCPP
CPNP Foundation Past President

The CPNP Foundation and CPNP value the contributions and perspectives of individuals living with mental illness, as they inform our empathic understanding of their needs and struggles. Amy Werremeyer, PharmD, and her colleagues share an additional image from their research to better understand the medication related experiences of patients with mental illness.

Charles Caley, PharmD, BCPPCPNP Foundation recently learned of the important work of CPNP member Amy Werremeyer, PharmD, and her colleagues Gina Aalgaard Kelly, PhD, and Elizabeth Skoy, PharmD, at North Dakota State University. Dr. Werremeyer’s group has spent much of the past three years conducting research to better understand the medication related experiences of patients with mental illness. This work, the “Photo Voice Project,” received funding from District 5 of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. The research group provides disposable cameras and instructions to individuals with mental illness so that they can construct a photographic display representative of their life with medications. 

Participants typically take two months to complete their task. Following the assignment, participants are interviewed, Amy Werremeyer, PharmD, BCPPboth individually and in groups, to acquire additional information about the images captured with their cameras. To date, the group has worked with 27 patients. Dr. Werremeyer states, “Much of what we learned was that if the medication has not been given a meaning (to the patient), then the medication was irrelevant to them, i.e., they could take it or leave it.” She continues, “I think it’s got to be part of our job as pharmacists to help patients connect their medication with a meaning…to help them understand how the medication can allow them to achieve what they want. The participants in our studies who had made those connections seemed to be the ones who took their medications most faithfully.”

Dr. Werremeyer’s work underscores the importance of pharmacists developing a therapeutic alliance with their patients. She concludes, “Patients have so much wisdom about their experiences and what they need to successfully manage their illnesses. We need to ask them about those experiences in order to deliver optimal care.”

In an effort to continue to emphasize the perspectives of individuals living with mental illness, Kaleidoscope shared one of the photos from this research project in the last issue, and features an additional photographic image in this issue. We will share a third photo in the November issue.

Picture from Photo Voice Project
“[This is] just showing, the process you have to go through and because of my diabetes and [the] condition I’m in all the different depression and anxiety [medications] I’m on now and if I would have taken care of myself and taken my medication and exercised, I would be healthy and I wouldn’t need ¾ of these medications.”

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