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Medication adherence in chronic illness: do beliefs about medications play a role?

Authors Lemay J, Waheedi M, Al-Sharqawi S, Bayoud T

Received 25 March 2018

Accepted for publication 29 May 2018

Published 5 September 2018 Volume 2018:12 Pages 1687—1698


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Jacinthe Lemay,1 Mohammad Waheedi,2 Sarah Al-Sharqawi,1 Tania Bayoud2

1Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2Department of Pharmacy Practice, Faculty of Pharmacy, Kuwait University, Safat, Kuwait

Background: Several medicines are prescribed for chronic disease management; however, adherence to long-term therapy remains poor. Culture influences beliefs about medications and, ultimately, adherence to treatment. There is a paucity of data with regard to beliefs about medications in the Middle East region, and it remains to be determined how these beliefs would impact treatment adherence.
Objectives: To investigate the relationship between patients’ beliefs about medications with self-reported adherence to treatment among a chronically ill multicultural patient population.
Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study was conducted among patients treated for chronic illnesses in the Ministry of Health primary care clinics in Kuwait. Patients completed a questionnaire that consisted of questions to collect information about their health status and demographics using validated instruments: the Beliefs about Medication, Sensitive Soma Assessment Scale, and Medication Adherence Report Scale-5 items. The main outcome measures were self-reported adherence to medications, beliefs, and perceived sensitivity toward medications.
Results: Of the 1,150 questionnaires distributed, 783 were collected – giving a response rate of 68.1%. Of the 783 patients, 56.7% were male, 73.7% were married, 53.3% were non-Kuwaitis, and 49.4% had low income (<1,000 KD/3,350 USD monthly). Patients self-reported having a cardiovascular illness (80.2%), diabetes mellitus (67.7%), respiratory disease (24.3%), or mood disorder (28.6%). Participants had a mean of two comorbid illnesses and indicated taking an average of four prescription medicines to treat them. A structural equation model analysis showed adherence to medications was negatively impacted by higher negative beliefs toward medications (beta = -0.46). Factors associated with negative beliefs toward medications included marital status (being unmarried; beta = -0.14), nationality (being Kuwaiti; beta = 0.15), having lower education level (beta = -0.14), and higher illness severity (beta = 0.15). Younger age (beta = 0.10) and higher illness severity (beta = -0.9) were independently associated with lower medication adherence. Income and gender did not influence medication adherence or beliefs about medications. The combined effect of variables tested in the model explained 24% of the variance in medication adherence.
Conclusion: Medication adherence is a complex, multifaceted issue and patient beliefs about medications contribute significantly, although partially, to adherence among a multicultural Middle Eastern patient population.

Keywords: beliefs, medication adherence, Kuwait, primary care, structural equation model

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