Back to Journals » Patient Preference and Adherence » Volume 12

Cost-related nonadherence to prescription medications in Canada: a scoping review

Authors Gupta S, McColl MA, Guilcher SJ, Smith K

Received 24 April 2018

Accepted for publication 16 May 2018

Published 6 September 2018 Volume 2018:12 Pages 1699—1715


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Video abstract presented by Gupta et al.

Views: 67

Shikha Gupta,1 Mary Ann McColl,1 Sara J Guilcher,2 Karen Smith3

1School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada; 2Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; 3Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

Purpose: The evidence is emerging that prescription medications are the topmost drivers of increasing health care costs in Canada. The financial burden of medications may lead individuals to adopt various rationing or restrictive behaviors, such as cost-related nonadherence (CRNA) to medications. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to provide an overview of the type, extent, and quantity of research available on CRNA to prescription drugs in Canada, and evaluate existing gaps in the literature.
Methods: The study was conducted using a scoping review methodology. Six databases were searched from inception till June 2017. Articles were considered for inclusion if they focused on extent, determinants, and consequences of CRNA to prescription medication use in the Canadian context. Variables extracted for data charting included author(s), year of publication, study design, the focus of the article, sample size, population characteristics, and key outcomes or results.
Results: This review found 37 studies that offered evidence on the extent, determinants, and consequences of CRNA to prescription medications in Canada. Depending on the population characteristics and province, the prevalence of CRNA varies between 4% and 36% in Canada. Canadians who are young (between 18 and 64 years), without drug insurance, have lower income or precarious or irregular employment, and high out-of-pocket expenditure on drugs are most likely to face CRNA to their prescriptions. The evidence that CRNA has negative health and social outcomes for patients is insufficient. Literature regarding the influence of prescribing health care professionals on patients’ decisions to stop taking medications is limited. There is also a dearth of literature that explores patients’ decisions and strategies to manage their prescription cost burden.
Conclusion: More evidence is required to make a strong case for national Pharmacare which can ensure universal, timely, and burden-free access to prescription medications for all Canadians.

Keywords: Pharmacare, medication adherence, drug costs, drug insurance

Creative Commons License 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. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]