Supporting medication adherence in renal transplantation (SMART): a pilot RCT to improve adherence to immunosuppressive regimens

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Although non-adherence to an immunosuppressive regimen (NAH) is a major risk factor for poor outcome after renal transplantation (RTx), very few studies have examined non-adherence intervention in this context. This pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) tested the efficacy of an educational–behavioural intervention to increase adherence in non-adherent RTx patients. We also assessed how NAH evolves over time.


Eighteen RTx non-adherent patients (age: 45.6±1.2 yr; 78.6% male) were randomly assigned to either an intervention group (IG) (n=6) or an enhanced usual care group (EUCG) (n=12), the latter receiving the usual clinical care. The IG received one home visit and three telephone interviews. We assessed NAH through electronic monitoring (EM) of medication intake during a nine-month period (three months intervention, six months follow-up).


Five of 18 patients withdrew. Inclusion in the study resulted in a remarkable decrease in NAH in both groups over the first three months (IG χ2=3.97, df=1, p=0.04; EUCG χ2=3.40, df=1, p=0.06). The IG showed the greatest decrease in NAH after three months, although this did not reach statistical significance (at 90 d, χ2=1.05, df=1, p=0.31). Thereafter, NAH increased gradually in both groups, reaching comparable levels at the end of the six-month follow-up (i.e. at nine months).


Our findings suggest an inclusion effect. Although the intervention in this pilot RCT appeared to add further benefit in medication compliance, a lack of statistical power prevented us from making a strong statistical statement.

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