Communication is key to medication adherence

January 2, 2013 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.

Explore further: Physicians don't adequately monitor patients' medication adherence

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

Related Stories

Physicians don't adequately monitor patients' medication adherence

July 16, 2012
Patients' non-adherence to prescribed medication costs the U.S. health care system an estimated $290 billion annually and can lead to poor clinical outcomes, increased hospitalizations and higher mortality.

Integrated health care delivery system and electronic health records support medication adherence

September 6, 2011
People who receive medical care in an integrated health care system with electronic health records linked to its own pharmacy more often collect their new prescriptions for diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure medications ...

Depression associated with poor medication adherence in patients with chronic illnesses

May 10, 2011
People who are depressed are less likely to adhere to medications for their chronic health problems than patients who are not depressed, putting them at increased risk of poor health, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Mail-order pharmacy for new statin prescriptions achieve better cholesterol control

July 22, 2011
Kaiser Permanente Northern California patients who obtained new statin prescriptions via a mail-order pharmacy achieved better cholesterol control in the first 3-15 months following the initiation of therapy -- compared to ...

Alternative medicine doesn't affect asthma care in children

April 10, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is not associated with adherence to pediatric asthma treatment, according to a study published online April 9 in Pediatrics.

Recommended for you

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

0 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.