Patients' attitudes to medicines and adherence to maintenance treatment in inflammatory bowel disease

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Nonadherence has been reported in over 40% of patients taking maintenance therapies (MT) for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Studies in other illness groups have shown that nonadherence is related to negative attitudes to treatment. The aim of this study was to assess patients' attitudes to MT for IBD (beliefs about personal need for MT and potential adverse effects) and to identify whether such beliefs are associated with adherence to MT.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted in which 1871 members of the National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease (NACC) completed validated questionnaires assessing beliefs about MT and adherence to MT.


Low adherence to MT was reported by 29% of participants and was associated with doubts about personal need for MT (odds ratio [OR] = 0.56; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.48–0.64; P < 0.001) and concerns about potential adverse effects (OR = 1.66; 95% CI: 1.42–1.94; P < 0.001). Attitudinal analysis showed that while almost half (48%) of the participants were “accepting” of MT (high necessity, low concerns), a large proportion of the sample (42%) were “ambivalent” about MT (high necessity, high concerns), 6% were “sceptical” (low necessity, high concerns) and 4% were “indifferent” (low necessity, low concerns). Compared to those who were “accepting” of MT, participants in all 3 other attitudinal groups were significantly more likely to be nonadherent.


The way in which patients judge their personal need for MT relative to their concerns about MT can be a significant barrier to adherence. Interventions to facilitate optimal adherence to MT for IBD should address such perceptual barriers.

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