Study shows that fear of dependence on medication prescriptions is a major reason for patients skipping their recommended doses.
In the United States, 20 to 30 percent of medication prescriptions are never filled, and approximately 50 percent of medication prescriptions are not taken as prescribed for chronic diseases.1,2 It's estimated this non-adherence causes approximately 125,000 deaths and at least 10 percent of hospitalizations and estimated to cost the U.S. health care system between $100 and $300 billion annually.1,3
Non-adherence and its consequences are concerning to Employer Plan Sponsors, raised frequently by those offering high-deductible plans. Numerous strategies have examined external barriers, with little long-term impact. These include financial incentives paying patients for taking their medications, social support nudges from apps or family/friends, electronic pill bottles alerting patients when a dose is due, and low or no co-pays.
A recent study, however, sheds light on a particularly challenging factor in non-adherence: patient beliefs about medications. 4 The study found 51.9 percent of respondents viewed medications negatively. Fear of dependence came as the most reported negative belief, followed by disbelief that medication works. These negative beliefs were significantly associated with lower medication adherence. This study concluded that “… negative beliefs about medicines were a more significant deterrent to adherence than external barriers to accessing medicines.” 4
Medication non-adherence comes with multifaceted problems, with many barriers and beliefs that must be overcome. Simply targeting one area, such as member cost share, will not be sufficient. It will take the entire health care team (physicians, nurses, pharmacists, insurers, PBMs and plan sponsors) working cohesively with the patient to improve patient adherence.
Have questions regarding this newsletter or or other employee benefits matters? Contact a Plexus client service team representative in Deer Park, Ill. (847.307.6100), Chicago (312.606.4800), Dallas (972.770.5010), or Oklahoma City (405.840.3033). We’re here to help – and we’re happy to help.
Publishing credit: Content provided by Integrated Health Concepts, LLC, a pharmacy consultant for The Plexus Groupe.
1. Peterson AM, Takiya L, Finley R. Meta-analysis of trials of interventions to improve medication adherence. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2003; 60:657-65.
2. Haynes RB, Ackloo E, Sahota N, McDonald HP, Yao X. Interventions for enhancing medication adherence. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008; CD000011.
3. Benjamin RM. Medication adherence: Helping patients take their medicines as directed. Public Health Rep. 2012; 127(1):2–3.
4. Gagnon MD et al. Patient beliefs have a greater impact than barriers on medication adherence in a community health center. J Board Fam Med. 2017 May-Jun; 30(3):331-336.