A new nurse-led study has found interventions to encourage heart patients to take their medications as prescribed were most effective when focused on changing the behavior of patients rather than the behavior of healthcare providers.
“Previous research has shown that 50% of patients who take medications long term do not take them as prescribed,” Todd Ruppar, PhD, RN, GCNS-BC, assistant professor at the Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri at Columbia, said in a news release.
“This study helps identify aspects of different interventions that contribute to better patient outcomes so that more effective interventions can be developed.”
The study, “Medication adherence interventions for heart failure patients: A meta-analysis,” was published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.
Ruppar and his colleagues compared characteristics of 29 medication adherence interventions for individuals who were not taking their heart medication as prescribed.
The researchers found interventions directed at healthcare providers or education-based interventions that focused on teaching individuals about their medications were less effective than interventions that focused on changing the behavior of patients.
“These findings reinforce the need for healthcare professionals to maintain a patient-centered focus when developing strategies to improve heart failure medication adherence,” Ruppar said in the release. “Medication adherence has to be a team effort. Many different reasons exist to explain why individuals are not taking their medications as prescribed; health providers must consider all of these reasons.”
Health providers also must improve their skills for addressing non-adherence to medications with their patients, Ruppar said.
“Heart disease is a consistent top killer in the U.S. and medication is essential to managing individuals’ conditions and controlling their risks for problems such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease,” Ruppar said in the release. “Medication adherence is essential to reducing the risks associated with this disease.”
Ruppar said individuals who skip medication doses, take more or less than what is prescribed, or stop taking their medications too soon experience the side effects and incur the costs of their medications without receiving the health benefits.
Ruppar suggests individuals who struggle to take their medications consistently should try associating taking their medication with an already established routine such as brushing their teeth. Ruppar said seven-day pill organizers also can help patients ensure they have taken their medications for the day.
In the future, Ruppar hopes to look at how medication adherence influences re-hospitalization and mortality of patients, according to the release.