One definition of adherence is: attachment or commitment to a person, cause, or belief. When talking about medication, adherence refers to how closely a patient follows the treatment plan that was agreed upon between physician and patient. At the pharmacy level, this is often measured by looking at the interval between medication refills, with the pharmacist checking to see that these are reasonable.
There are many barriers to medication adherence, some of which may include complex treatment schedules, cost, social and cultural challenges, as well as the way our healthcare system is set up. For patients on long term therapies, non-adherence may be due to a loss of response to drug over time, a difficult to manage side effect, or frustration with the chronic nature of their disease.
For patients with chronic diseases, the rate of adherence to treatment tends to be anywhere from 50-75%.
When patients are not adherent to taking their medication, the effect is far-reaching. The non-adherent RA patient tends to end up with more prescriptions for prednisone or NSAIDs (like ibuprofen, naproxen, etc). They tend to make more visits to the emergency room, and have a higher hospitalization rate. They require more home care and rehabilitation services. In addition, the non-adherent patient creates more drug waste.
Please let us know if you are having trouble being adherent to your medication schedule. It is very likely that we can help manage a difficult side effect, manage insurance coverage concerns, simplify a challenging treatment schedule, or clarify your understanding of the benefits of treatment. We understand that a chronic condition can be a tremendous burden and want to help you gain success and confidence by improving adherence to treatment.