Medication Adherence: A Literature Review

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


October 12, 2005

In This Article

Heart Failure Patients

Both the failure to make important lifestyle changes and the failure to take prescribed medications have been identified as significant problems in patients with heart failure, but a recent review identified only a small number of studies that evaluated interventions for improving adherence.[8] Education and counseling (in person and via the telephone) have demonstrated significantly improved adherence. Simplification of the prescribed regimen and use of dispensing aids were identified as additional medication-related interventions.

For example, if a pharmacist recognizes that the patient is not able to maintain adherence because of a complicated medication regimen, he or she can evaluate the patient's medication profile to determine whether changes could be suggested to the prescribing clinician that would result in a simpler medication schedule. This is especially helpful if the patient is treated by more than one clinician and the prescribers are not fully aware of the patient's entire medication regimen.

The use of polypharmacy remains problematic in today's healthcare environment, and this strategy is best suited for the ideal situation in which the patient uses a single pharmacy for all prescription medications. Simple tools such as pill boxes and dosing calendars can also be beneficial for more complicated regimens.


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