The Role of the Physician in Patient Perceptions of Barriers to Primary Adherence With Acne Medications

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Abstract

Importance

Primary nonadherence with acne medications is high but commonly underreported to prescribing physicians.

Objectives

To describe patient experiences with primary nonadherence to medications for acne and to identify physician-level factors that may improve adherence in this population.

Design, Setting, and Participants

A qualitative analysis was conducted from structured interviews with patients reporting nonadherence with acne medications at a large academic health system in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area. Three hundred eighty-five patients from 4 dermatology practices in the Philadelphia area were screened for primary nonadherence with a newly prescribed acne medication. Twenty-six patients participated in structured interviews conducted between November 30, 2016, and January 31, 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Thematic analysis of the transcripts was performed to detect recurrent themes and divergent ideas with a focus on modifiable physician-level factors that might improve primary adherence to medications for acne.

Results

Participants (19 [73%] women, 6 [23%] aged <26 years, 15 [58%] aged 26-40 years, and 5 [19%] aged >40 years) reported cost as the major barrier to initiating therapy. Despite anticipating this barrier, they rarely brought up costs with physicians during the initial visit and generally did not expect their physician to be knowledgeable in this area. Although patients experienced inconvenience and frustration when unable to fill their prescriptions, this experience did not appear to negatively affect their satisfaction with the prescribing physician. Nevertheless, warning patients that the preferred medication may be expensive, having a plan of action if patients were unable to fill the prescription, and securing the patient’s commitment to the plan were described as actions that the physicians could take to improve primary adherence.

Conclusions and Relevance

Physician-level interventions to improve primary adherence to medications for acne may have an impact on nonadherence with costly medications, although they may not affect patient satisfaction with the prescribing physician.

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