Medications for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease save lives but adherence is often inadequate. The optimal role for physicians in improving adherence remains unclear.
Using existing evidence, we set the goal of evaluating the physician’s role in improving medication adherence.
We conducted systematic searches of English-language peer-reviewed publications in MEDLINE and EMBASE from 1966 through 12/31/2008.
SUBJECTS AND INTERVENTIONS
We selected randomized controlled trials of interventions to improve adherence to medications used for preventing or treating cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
Articles were classified as either (1) physician “active”—a physician participated in designing or implementing the intervention; (2) physician “passive”—physicians treating intervention group patients received patient adherence information while physicians treating controls did not; or (3) physicians noninvolved. We also identified studies in which healthcare professionals helped deliver the intervention. We did a meta-analysis of the studies involving healthcare professionals to determine aggregate Cohen’s D effect sizes (ES).
We identified 6,550 articles; 168 were reviewed in full, 82 met inclusion criteria. The majority of all studies (88.9%) showed improved adherence. Physician noninvolved studies were more likely (35.0% of studies) to show a medium or large effect on adherence compared to physician-involved studies (31.3%). Among interventions requiring a healthcare professional, physician-noninvolved interventions were more effective (ES 0.47; 95% CI 0.38–0.56) than physician-involved interventions (ES 0.25; 95% CI 0.21–0.29; p<0.001). Among physician-involved interventions, physician-passive interventions were marginally more effective (ES 0.29; 95% CI 0.22–0.36) than physician-active interventions (ES 0.23; 95% CI 0.17–0.28; p=0.2).
Adherence interventions utilizing non-physician healthcare professionals are effective in improving cardiovascular medication adherence, but further study is needed to identify the optimal role for physicians.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-010-1387-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
KEY WORDS: medication adherence, pharmaceutical care, doctor–patient relationships, preventive care, systematic reviews