Nearly half of patients taking medications for chronic conditions do not follow their prescribed medication regimens because of prior beliefs about their necessity and long-term effects and dependency, according to a new report from the University of Missouri.
Failure to use medications as directed increases patients’ risk for side effects, hospitalizations, reduced quality of life and shortened lifespans, the report states.
The study focused on older patients’ adherence to medication treatments that control high blood pressure, a condition that affects nearly 70 million adults in the United States and can lead to heart disease and stroke. It found that patients’ beliefs about the causes of high blood pressure and the effectiveness of treatment alternatives significantly impacted their medication adherence patterns.
According to the report, some patients rejected medication in favor of other methods that had been proven successful in treating high blood pressure, like walking or cutting down on salt. But most people need medication to reduce their risk of adverse health outcomes, researchers stress.
Physicians need to amend patients’ behaviors not with education, but with tactics such as electronic pill bottle caps that alert patients to take medications at specific times or more frequent monitoring of their blood pressure levels so they associate medication adherence with health benefits and non-adherence with negative side effects.
Source: University of Missouri, October 15, 2012
2011 Benchmarks in Improving Medication Adherence provides actionable information from 162 healthcare organizations on their efforts to improve medication adherence and compliance in their populations, and documents the impact of these programs on adherence levels, medication costs and ER visits, among other areas of concern.