Medication adherence improves with better doc-patient communication

The patient-physician relationship matters, especially when it comes to medication adherence.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center and the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research found that patients who gave their doctors poor marks for communication were less likely to adhere to their medications.

The study, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine (formerly the Archives of Internal Medicine), found 30 percent of the studied patients weren't taking their medications for blood sugar, blood pressure or cholesterol the way their physicians believed them to be.

Last month, a separate Yale-New Haven Hospital study found that three out of four patients are going home with the wrong prescriptions or don't understand their medications. Eighty-one percent of senior patients with heart failure, acute coronary syndrome or pneumonia at the hospital experienced a provider error in discharge medications (24 percent) or didn't understand at least one medication change (60 percent).

"Communication matters," lead author Neda Ratanawongsa said in a Tuesday statement. "By supporting doctors in developing meaningful relationships with their patients, we could help patients take better care of themselves," said the assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Medicine and the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at SFGH.

In fact, rates for medication non-adherence were 4 percent to 6 percent lower for patients who felt their doctors listened to them.

According to a September report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), some communication methods to intervene include case management, education, decision aids and reminders.

For more information:
- see the UCSF research announcement
- check out the study abstract

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