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Medication Adherence in Cystic Fibrosis

Medication Adherence in Cystic Fibrosis

Recent research in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) suggests that there are associations between medication non-adherence and an increased risk for hospitalizations, pulmonary exacerbations, lower baseline lung function, and longer hospital lengths of stay (Table). Patients and providers alike understand that non-adherence is associated with higher morbidity and mortality rates in CF. However, most studies find that the rate of adherence among patients with CF is only about 50%. “When managing CF, there is strong potential for improved health outcomes just by increasing adherence to prescribed drug regimens,” explains Kristin A. Riekert, PhD, co-author of a review on medication adherence in patients with CF that was published in Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine. “Our healthcare system is increasingly offering incentives for preventing hospitalizations and making clinicians and hospitals more accountable in the care they provide. This includes ensuring that patients are taking their prescribed medications.” Addressing a Key Issue Patients tend to overestimate how often they perform positive health behaviors, including taking their medications as prescribed, explains Dr. Riekert. “As a whole, healthcare providers have difficulty in identifying which patients are likely to be adherent or non-adherent to their treatment regimen,” she says.   Despite the challenges facing clinicians, it is important for providers to assess adherence and establish a baseline in order to have an appropriate conversation with patients about their behaviors. “Personal behavior is one aspect of care that patients can control,” says Dr. Riekert. “Providers should support positive behaviors and find approaches to help their patients overcome barriers to adherence.” Pharmacy records are often used to measure adherence because they provide an existing, objective measure. However,...
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