Non-adherence to the oral anti-estrogen therapies (AET) tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors in early-stage hormone receptor-positive breast cancer is associated with numerous negative clinical outcomes. Prior studies have identified that non-adherence is associated with psychological and menopause-related factors which are present during AET, but the presence of these characteristics prior to AET initiation has not been investigated.
Psychological and menopause symptoms (depression, generalized anxiety, insomnia, somatosensory amplification, hot flash frequency, and hot flash-related interference) were assessed pre-AET initiation as predictors of subsequent non-adherence in 73 participants (M = 55.0, SD = 10.1 years). Participants self-reported treatment adherence after three and 6 weeks on AET. Participants who did not initiate treatment were excluded from the analysis.
Discriminant function analyses revealed that the hypothesized set of psychological and menopause symptoms at baseline (pre-AET) together statistically distinguished between those who were non-adherent (n = 19; 26.0%) from adherent (n = 54; 74.0%) at 6 weeks. Model classification accuracy was statistically significant (Wilks’ ƛ = 0.782, χ(6) = 15.50, p = 0.017) at the 6-week timepoint. Results were consistent at 3 weeks. Pre-AET psychological and menopause symptoms correctly classified 6-week treatment adherence 77.9% of the time. Depression contributed most to distinguishing between adherers and non-adherers.
The presence of a composite profile of psychological and menopause symptoms prior to AET initiation may help to identify early treatment non-adherence. Results can be used to identify patients at risk for non-adherence and to guide psychological and symptom management interventions.