Medication Adherence: A Literature Review

Charlotte A. Kenreigh, PharmD, and Linda Timm Wagner, PharmD


October 12, 2005

In This Article

Elderly Patients

In a comprehensive review of medication adherence in the elderly, MacLaughlin and colleagues[7] discuss basic reasons for nonadherence in this demographic sector, emphasizing that no single reason fits all patients. In fact, many elderly patients have multiple factors influencing adherence to prescribed therapies: age greater than 70 years, marginal or inadequate health literacy, diminished functional abilities, and many comorbid conditions.

The pharmacist plays an important role in assessing adherence in this population. The use of medication adherence aids is highest in this group of patients. For instance, pillbox usage has been reported to be as high as 70% in some studies for this demographic group.[7] Familiarity with medication aids -- ranging from the simple (pillboxes and calendars) to more complex (automated refill reminders and the Medication-Events-Monitoring System) -- is essential for pharmacists. The pharmacist must be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each aid to effectively promote its use.


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