Medication adherence beliefs of U.S community pharmacists

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There is increasing attention on the role of community pharmacists in improving medication adherence. There is a need to better understand pharmacist attitudes and experiences related to this role.


To assess community pharmacist perceptions of patient reasons for non-adherence, characterize the adherence beliefs of community pharmacists, and test if there are demographic predictors of pharmacists’ self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and role beliefs related to intervening on medication non-adherence.


A cross-sectional survey was mailed using a 4-contact approach to 1000 pharmacists practicing in 5 Midwestern U.S. States. The survey included seven domains to address the study objectives. Descriptive statistics were calculated for demographic items, coefficient alphas tested the internal consistency of scales, and multiple regression was used to test the relationship between demographics and scale means.


There were 261 usable responses giving a 29% response rate. Pharmacists perceived forgetting and instructions changing without a new prescription to be the most common reasons for late refills. A minority of pharmacists agreed that non-adherence involves a deliberate decision or that negative medication beliefs were common reasons for late refills. Pharmacists were confident, had positive outcome expectations, and positive role beliefs related to interacting with patients who have adherence issues. Barriers to adherence intervention included difficulties with follow-up and documentation. Also, over half of the pharmacists reported that discussing adherence makes patients defensive.


Pharmacists had positive attitudes toward intervening on medication non-adherence although barriers to intervention are present. Pharmacists perceived non-intentional reasons for late refills to be more prevalent than intentional reasons. Pharmacists may benefit from additional non-adherence communication training and support targeted at identifying a broader range of non-adherence reasons.

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