High costs, low follow-up drive medicine nonadherence

Medication nonadherence remains a significant problem, but physicians can turn that around by paying better attention to prescription costs and patient follow-up, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In primary care alone, more than 31 percent of Canadian patients' first-time prescriptions went unfilled, researchers found. Although researchers conducted the study of nearly 16,000 patient records in Quebec, its takeaways are relevant to prescription adherence behavior in the United States, noted a post from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

For starters, the study showed that patients who visited the prescribing physician were more likely to comply with medication instructions. This finding reinforces the need for more consistent follow-up with patients suffering from chronic conditions--a fundamental component of the patient-centered medical home, according to the AAFP.

In addition, the team found patients were less likely to fill drug prescriptions in the upper quartile of cost. "Family doctors should also remain aware of the effect of cost on compliance and, therefore, consider the cost of medication when choosing what to prescribe," AAFP Health of the Public and Science Medical Director Jennifer Frost, M.D., told AAFP News.

In a previous survey commissioned by the Prescriptions for a Healthy America--a coalition of some 30 organizations including the AAFP--respondents identified the following additional solutions to improve medication adherence:

  • Increase one-on-one communication between healthcare professionals and patients.

  • Provide clear information about medications.

  • Remind patients via email and phone to take their medications.

To learn more:
- read the post
- here's the abstract