Although poor adherence is directly linked to patient behavior, there is no definitive data that has defined a ‘non-adherent’ personality or revealed a relationship between adherence and the ability to follow self-care or lifestyle recommendations.14 Likewise, medication adherence has not been shown to be correlated to demographic variables such as age, gender, or race, although there is a weak relationship with lower education and income levels. There are many variables that can be factored into adherence behavior outside of demographic variables that have greater utility as a predictor of medication adherence behavior. Table 1 categorizes the predictive strength of consumer-related variables (and their interaction within the health care system) as they are presented in the literature.
Moreover, the decision to be adherent is unique for each medication, and driven by three factors: (1) the perceived need for the medication (related to their understanding of the disease and therapy): (2) the perceived concerns about the medication (related to side-effects and safety); and (3) the perceived medication affordability.
National Consumers League’s Approach
The National Consumers League has launched a medication adherence awareness campaign entitled “Script Your Future”. The multiyear effort focuses primarily on patients affected by diabetes, respiratory disease, and cardiovascular disease. It is a powerful campaign that educates the consumer that poor medication adherence can lead to consequences that affect their ability to take care of themselves and their loved ones, places undue emotional and financial burden on family members, and jeopardizes the ability to experience future family events and milestones. The campaign also encourages patients and health care professionals to better communicate about ways to improve medication adherence.
Physicians, particularly primary care physicians (PCPs) and other specialists that write prescriptions for chronic diseases, can play a key role in addressing medication adherence given that they represent the initiation of the prescription process and have the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with the patient.