Communication is key to medication adherence

by Jason Bardi
Communication is key to medication adherence

(Medical Xpress)—Even the best medicines in the world can be rendered ineffective if they are not taken as prescribed. The problem known as medication "non-adherence" is a major health issue in the United States, contributing to worse outcomes for people who have diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Now a study led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco General Hospital and (SFGH) and the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research has identified a significant factor that contributes to poor drug adherence – ineffective communication.

Described in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, formerly known as the , the study looked at 9,377 patients taking medications to lower their blood sugar, blood pressure or cholesterol.

These patients were asked through questionnaires to rate how well their doctors communicated with them. Patient medication adherence was determined by measuring delays in refilling prescriptions. The patients who gave their doctors poor marks in communicating were less likely to adhere to their medications.

The work suggests preparing doctors to be better communicators may help improve medication adherence and ultimately , said lead author Neda Ratanawongsa, MD, MPH, an assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Medicine and the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at SFGH.

"Communication matters," Ratanawongsa said. "Thirty percent of people [in the study] were not necessarily taking their medications the way their doctors thought they were. Rates for non-adherence were 4 to 6 percent lower for patients who felt their doctors listened to them, involved them in decisions and gained their trust. By supporting in developing meaningful relationships with their patients, we could help take better care of themselves."

The work is part of the Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE), which is designed to evaluate quality of care and to identify reasons for disparities where they exist.

"What is unique about our study is that we found that medication adherence is better if the physician has established a trusting relationship with the patient and prioritizes the quality of communication, even if that communication is not specifically focused on ," added Andrew Karter, PhD, a senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and the principal investigator of DISTANCE.

More information: The article, "Communication and Medication Adherence: The Diabetes Study of Northern California" is authored by Neda Ratanawongsa, Andrew J. Karter, Melissa M. Parker, Courtney R. Lyles, Michele Heisler, Howard H. Moffet, Nancy Adler, E. Margaret Warton and Dean Schillinger. It was published by JAMA's Archives of Internal Medicine on Dec. 31, 2012. archinte.jamanetwork.com/artic… px?articleid=1487288

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Patients who smoke want respect from physicians

16 minutes ago

What is it like to be someone who smokes in today's increasingly smoke-free world? How can providers best interact with their patients who smoke and support their efforts to become tobacco-free? A new study by researchers ...

Make your diet anti-inflammatory with a few easy changes

28 minutes ago

Use your search engine or explore a local bookstore, and you'll find a wide variety of anti-inflammatory diet books. This eating approach is promoted to reduce everything from heart disease to asthma, and often requires you ...

Getting enough sleep really isn't optional

36 minutes ago

The typical adult needs 7 to 7 1/2 hours of sleep each night, while for teenagers and young adults under 25 about 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night is recommended, says Ann Romaker, MD, director of the University ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.