The prevalence, risk factors, and outcomes of medication trade-offs in kidney and liver transplant recipients: a pilot study

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High out-of-pocket medication costs negatively impact adherence in transplantation. We evaluated the association of “medication trade-offs”—defined as choosing to spend money on other expenses over medications—with medication nonadherence and transplant outcomes. From 2011 to 2012, we performed a prospective study of 201 transplanted recipients (n = 103 liver, n = 98 kidney and) at two large US transplant centers. Structured interviews assessed socio-demographics, medication adherence, and medication trade-offs. Multivariable models assessing risk factors for medications trade-offs and the association between medications trade-offs and post-transplant hospital admissions were performed. A total of 17% of patients reported medication trade-offs; the most common trade-offs were inability to afford a prescription in the past 12 months and making choices between prescriptions and food. In multivariable analysis, insurance type (RR: 2.97, 95% CI: 1.19–7.40), limited health literacy (RR: 2.64, 95% CI: 1.23–5.64), and ≥3 comorbid conditions (RR: 2.48, 95% CI: 1.09–5.62; all P < 0.05) were associated with trade-offs. Patients with trade-offs were more likely to report nonadherence to medications (mean adherence: 77 ± 23% with trade-offs vs. 89 ± 19% without trade-offs, P < 0.01). The presence of medication trade-offs was associated with post-transplant hospital admissions (RR 1.64, 95% CI 1.14–2.35, P < 0.01). Assessments of financial barriers are warranted in clinical practice to identify nonadherence and improve post-transplant outcomes.

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