Blister Packaging Medication Increases Treatment Adherence in Psychiatric Patients

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate whether blister packing medications would improve prescription medication adherence in psychiatric patients. It was hypothesized that patients in the blister pack (BP) condition would be more adherent to their daily medications than those in the dispense as usual condition.

Methods:

This was a randomized trial involving up to 1 year of monthly follow-up assessments. Participants were recruited from an urban Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in the Western United States. Inclusion criteria for participants included being diagnosed with a major affective disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, or a combination of these disorders; being 18 to 89 years of age; receiving prescription medications from the VA pharmacy; and being considered competent to manage their own medications. Of the 303 patients who consented to participate, 277 were randomized to 1 of the 2 study conditions, and 243 were retained in the study. The sample was 87% male, 47% white, with a mean age of 54.4 years. All medications prescribed and dispensed by the VA were either repackaged in monthly BPs or dispensed in standard pill vials.

Results:

The primary hypothesis was supported. Patients in the BPs condition showed evidence of better adherence at 12-month follow-up, as well as larger increases in adherence from 1 month to 12 months.

Conclusions:

Psychiatric patients adhere better to prescription medication regimens when receiving their medications in BP.

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