Parents and caregivers of children with medical complexity (CMC) manage complex medication regimens (CMRs) at home. Parental understanding of CMRs is critical to safe medication administration. Regarding CMR administration, we 1) described the population of CMC receiving CMRs; 2) assessed parental perceived confidence and understanding; and 3) evaluated parental demonstrated understanding.


Cross-sectional clinic-based assessment of knowledge and understanding of CMC using CMRs who received primary care in a large pediatric complex care clinic. CMRs were identified by the receipt of ≥1 of the following: 1) ≥10 concurrent medications; 2) ≥1 high-risk medication; or 3) ≥1 extemporaneously compounded medication. Parents reported their perceived confidence and understanding of CMRs, and then demonstrated understanding through 3 medication-related tasks.


Of 156 CMCs, most were <10 years of age (63.5%), white (75%), had neurologic impairment (76.9%), and used a median of 8 medications (IQR, 5–10). Parents were female (76.9%) with a mean age of 38.8 ± 11.5 years, white (69.9%), spoke English (94.2%), and had some college education (82.1%). On 11 confidence and understanding statements, most parents reported a high perceived level of understanding and confidence, with combined agreement or strong agreement ranging between 81.2% and 98.7%. Only 73.1% correctly identified medications taken for specified conditions, 40.4% reported complete dosing parameters, and 54.8% correctly measured 2 different medication doses. Significant differences existed between parental perceived understanding versus the 3 demonstrated tasks (all p < 0.05).


Substantial opportunities exist to improve medication safety and efficacy in the outpatient, in-home setting including improved medication-specific education and medication-related supports.

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