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      Poor medication adherence in type 2 diabetes: recognizing the scope of the problem and its key contributors

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          At least 45% of patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) fail to achieve adequate glycemic control (HbA1c <7%). One of the major contributing factors is poor medication adherence. Poor medication adherence in T2D is well documented to be very common and is associated with inadequate glycemic control; increased morbidity and mortality; and increased costs of outpatient care, emergency room visits, hospitalization, and managing complications of diabetes. Poor medication adherence is linked to key nonpatient factors (eg, lack of integrated care in many health care systems and clinical inertia among health care professionals), patient demographic factors (eg, young age, low education level, and low income level), critical patient beliefs about their medications (eg, perceived treatment inefficacy), and perceived patient burden regarding obtaining and taking their medications (eg, treatment complexity, out-of-pocket costs, and hypoglycemia). Specific barriers to medication adherence in T2D, especially those that are potentially modifiable, need to be more clearly identified; strategies that target poor adherence should focus on reducing medication burden and addressing negative medication beliefs of patients. Solutions to these problems would require behavioral innovations as well as new methods and modes of drug delivery.

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          Most cited references 51

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          Psychological insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes: the scope of the problem.

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            Primary medication non-adherence: analysis of 195,930 electronic prescriptions.

            Non-adherence to essential medications represents an important public health problem. Little is known about the frequency with which patients fail to fill prescriptions when new medications are started ("primary non-adherence") or predictors of failure to fill. Evaluate primary non-adherence in community-based practices and identify predictors of non-adherence. 75,589 patients treated by 1,217 prescribers in the first year of a community-based e-prescribing initiative. We compiled all e-prescriptions written over a 12-month period and used filled claims to identify filled prescriptions. We calculated primary adherence and non-adherence rates for all e-prescriptions and for new medication starts and compared the rates across patient and medication characteristics. Using multivariable regressions analyses, we examined which characteristics were associated with non-adherence. Primary medication non-adherence. Of 195,930 e-prescriptions, 151,837 (78%) were filled. Of 82,245 e-prescriptions for new medications, 58,984 (72%) were filled. Primary adherence rates were higher for prescriptions written by primary care specialists, especially pediatricians (84%). Patients aged 18 and younger filled prescriptions at the highest rate (87%). In multivariate analyses, medication class was the strongest predictor of adherence, and non-adherence was common for newly prescribed medications treating chronic conditions such as hypertension (28.4%), hyperlipidemia (28.2%), and diabetes (31.4%). Many e-prescriptions were not filled. Previous studies of medication non-adherence failed to capture these prescriptions. Efforts to increase primary adherence could dramatically improve the effectiveness of medication therapy. Interventions that target specific medication classes may be most effective.
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              Effect of medication dosing frequency on adherence in chronic diseases.

              To systematically review available data on the effect of daily medication dosing frequency on medication adherence in chronic disease states, as assessed by precise medication event monitoring systems (MEMS). Systematic review of relevant literature published between January 1986 and August 2007. Four electronic databases were searched to identify appropriate studies. Study selection criteria included prospective study design, patient population with quiescent chronic disease, medication intervention prescribed to each treatment arm for at least 6 weeks, and the use of MEMS to measure adherence. Data were extracted on the chronic disease being treated, the frequency of medication dosing, and the proportion of days with correct number of doses. Twenty studies met the selection criteria. All studies reported higher adherence rates in patients using less frequently dosed medications, and these differences were statistically significant (P <.05) in 75% (15 of 20) of studies. For 5 of 6 studies comparing once-daily versus thrice-daily dosing, patients receiving once-daily dosing had 22% to 41% more adherent days compared with patients receiving thrice-daily dosing. For studies comparing once-daily versus twice-daily dosing, patients receiving once-daily dosing had 2% to 44% more adherent days compared with patients receiving twice-daily dosing, with most studies clustering around 13% to 26%. Patients are more compliant with once-daily compared with twice-daily or thrice-daily treatment regimens.

                Author and article information

                Patient Prefer Adherence
                Patient Prefer Adherence
                Patient Preference and Adherence
                Patient preference and adherence
                Dove Medical Press
                22 July 2016
                : 10
                : 1299-1307
                [1 ]Behavioral Diabetes Institute, San Diego
                [2 ]University of California, San Diego
                [3 ]Center for Metabolic Research, VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, CA, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: William H Polonsky, Behavioral Diabetes Institute, PO Box 2148, Del Mar, CA 92014, USA, Tel +1 760 525 5256, Email whp@
                © 2016 Polonsky and Henry. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.



                glycemic control, type 2 diabetes, psychosocial, medication adherence, hypoglycemia, hba1c


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