ACR: Treatment Adherence Low With Rheumatic Diseases

Low adherence in those with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus negatively impacts outcomes

TUESDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Many individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and lupus do not adhere to medication regimens, which negatively impacts treatment outcomes, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, held from Nov. 7 to 11 in Atlanta.

In two studies, Christian A. Waimann, M.D., and Maria F. Marengo, M.D., of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues assessed 110 participants with RA and 74 patients with lupus to determine adherence rates to prescribed treatment plans over a two-year period. The researchers used MEMS cap data to estimate the percentage of prescribed doses taken by each participant.

The investigators found that the adherence rate for doses taken on schedule was 59 percent for participants in the RA study on disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and 64 percent for those in the lupus study on prednisone. Only 61 percent of the participants in the RA study took their medication as prescribed, with participants more likely to take the correct medication dose than to take their medications on time each day and week. In addition, participants in the RA study in worse overall health and better mental health adhered to treatment regimens. In the lupus study, only 46 to 62 percent of participants took their medication accurately, with better mental health associated with increased adherence to treatment. Participants adhering to the correct doses of medication experienced better disease activity.

"It is important to ascertain if patients are taking their prescribed therapy as indicated before determining that a treatment is ineffective," Waimann and Marengo said in a statement. "Physicians need to understand why patients may not take their medications as prescribed, and explain to patients the importance of taking medications as prescribed in order to reach treatment goals."

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