Pharmacists’ Motivational Interviewing Can Boost Medication Adherence Levels

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Medication non-adherence accounts for nearly $290 billion in avoidable medical spending each year, according to a recent New England Healthcare Institute estimate.

But a recent pilot study found that training community pharmacists in the art of motivational interviewing could boost medication adherence levels in the patients who visit them.

The study, a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Rite-Aid pharmacies, was discussed in “Improving Medication Adherence Benchmarks Through Community Pharmacist Interventions,” a webinar sponsored by the Health Intelligence Network. According to Janice Pringle, Ph.D., director of the program evaluation research unit at the university, and guest speaker, the three primary reasons causing medication non-adherence were patients’ beliefs that:

    Medication costs too much
    Medication will do more harm than good
    Medication is not needed

The study deployed motivational interviewing training to 120 participating pharmacies. Results showed that standardized screening and brief (2 to 5 minutes long) therapeutic conversations between patient and pharmacist helped to reduce patient risk. Pharmacists were taught overall interviewing techniques and strategies for dealing with patients’ resistance to taking medication.

This isn’t the first time Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) has proved valuable in health management. Studies have shown that SBI has been effective in alcohol problems, and for smoking, diabetes, and HIV adherence.

And, many of the pharmacists surveyed in the program were eager to shed their often inaccessible image for a more accessible one. Said one pharmacist of the training: “All of us have been trained to work with patients, and we have not been able to do that. This is the chance we have been looking for to have more contact with our patients and make a difference in their lives.”

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