The Impact of Socioeconomic Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Patient Perceptions on Medication Adherence in Depression Treatment

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Prim Care Companion CNS Disord


Objective: Nonadherence to pharmacotherapy for psychiatric conditions is associated with poor outcomes, including increased risk of relapse, increased health care costs, and reduced quality of life. The objective of this study was to investigate the strength of association between socioeconomic factors, race/ethnicity, and patient perceptions with medication adherence in individuals with depression.

Methods: Baseline surveys were sent out in 2012 to 4,216 adult patients within a large health system who presented with a clinical diagnosis of major depressive disorder (ICD-9), recorded at least twice in the electronic medical record in the year 2011. A total of 1,573 patients responded to the baseline survey. Of those, 1,209 patients who completed the survey and had used antidepressants in the last 12 months were recruited for the study. Perception of medication risk was assessed using the Beliefs About Medicines Questionnaire, and adherence to medications was assessed using the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale. Logistic regression was used to investigate the relationship between perception of medicine risk and treatment adherence.

Results: For non-Hispanic white individuals, medication adherence was higher among those who were least concerned about the risk of medications (64%; 95% CI, 58-70) compared to those who were most concerned (34%; 95% CI, 26-43). In the logistic regression model, less concern about medications and their side effects was associated with higher medication adherence (odds ratio = 2.6; 95% CI, 1.77-3.84; P < .0001). This association remained significant after adjustment for age, race, education level, and extramedical use of other medications or substances. Moreover, patients with older age and lower education level as well as those who were non-Hispanic white and had no extramedical use of other medications/substances were more likely to be adherent to medications.

Conclusions: This study contributes quantitative data on factors that impact treatment adherence. Identifying patients at increased risk of nonadherence, having discussions with patients early in the treatment process to understand their concerns regarding treatment options, being sensitive to cultural beliefs, and patiently proceeding with the decision-making process could help ensure better outcomes.

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