Patient Beliefs Have a Greater Impact Than Barriers on Medication Adherence in a Community Health Center

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Nonadherence to medicines contributes to poor health outcomes, especially for patients with complicated medicine regimens. We examined adherence among patients at a family health center and the impact that barriers to getting medicines and negative beliefs about medicines have on adherence.


A survey was administered incorporating the 8-item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale, questions from the Beliefs about Medicine Questionnaire, and questions about patients' external barriers to getting medicines. Low adherence was examined by any external barrier and by higher negative beliefs, adjusting for patient characteristics.


The convenience sample of 343 participants is demographically representative of the larger population. Among these patients, 54% report low adherence, 51% have at least 1 barrier to adherence, and 52% report more negative than positive beliefs about medicines. When beliefs and barriers are examined together, patients with negative beliefs are 49% less likely to adhere than those with more positive beliefs, whereas barriers show no significant impact on adherence.


Negative beliefs about medicines are as prevalent in this population as external barriers to accessing medicines, but negative beliefs were more significantly associated with adherence than external barriers. Physicians should identify and address patients' negative beliefs about medicines to improve adherence rates.

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