Colin Whaley, MD MSc

Internal Medicine Resident Physician, University of Toronto

Communicating Medication Indications

January 01, 2022

I wrote an article on this topic for Healthy Debate, which can be found here.

Medications can be confusing for patients and clinicians alike. They often have long, challenging-to-prounce names, and can be prescribed for more than one reason.

For my master's thesis, my collaborators and I evaluated sixty interviews, twenty each with pharmacists, physicians and patients, to learn their perspectives on adding RFU to prescriptions and medication labels.
The following image details the flow of medication information between the prescriber, the patient and the pharmacist, as well as the opportunities to add RFU to it (wRFU).
Images from
Doctor (long hair), prescription, pill bottle,  medication speech bubble (modified): Freepik
Pharmacist, person: itim2101
When we were interviewing all three groups, there was concern that medications to treat sensitive illnesses, like sexually transmitted infections or mental health illnesses, was consistently brought up as a  concern. We are in the process of conducting a study specifically asking those living with a sensitive illness on their perspectives on adding RFU to prescriptions and medication labels. A poster based on our preliminary work has been accepted to the Canadian Society of Internal Medicine Annual Meeting, and it can be found here:

As those we have interviewed have made clear, it will take collaboration with many groups and stakeholders in order to see the routine inclusion of RFU on prescriptions and medication labels. As my collaborators and I continue our scholarship in this area, we will ensure those who may be the most impacted by sharing RFU more broadly –  clinicians and patients alike – are represented and respected as we liaise with external stakeholders.