Breast cancer survivors often need to take medication for several years to block sex hormones that can fuel tumor growth and recurrence. However, many patients stop taking these life-saving medications early or do not adhere to the prescribed regimen. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder investigated strategies to improve medication adherence among breast cancer survivors. The study found that interventions can increase medication adherence by nearly 1.5 times, but some strategies are more effective than others.
The researchers analyzed 25 studies involving approximately 368,000 women to determine which interventions were successful in promoting medication adherence. They discovered that cost-cutting policies, such as providing generic alternatives and ensuring insurance coverage for oral pills, consistently improved adherence rates. Additionally, mobile apps, text reminders, and psychological/coping strategies showed modest improvements. However, educating women about the side effects of the medications did not significantly increase adherence rates, whereas physical therapy, exercise, and behavioral counseling aimed at managing side effects proved to be more effective.
The study highlighted the importance of addressing mental health issues in promoting medication adherence. Depression was identified as a significant predictor of non-adherence, and the researchers emphasized the need for further research on the role of depression in medication adherence. One study included in the meta-analysis involved participants creating stickers with their goals or motivations for taking the medication. It was found that those who created and used these stickers were more likely to adhere to their medication regimen.
The findings of this study have important implications for healthcare providers and insurance companies. The researchers recommend that doctors provide referrals to specialists who can help manage medication side effects, as well as follow up with appointment reminders. They also emphasized the need to treat depression, as it can significantly impact motivation and adherence. Insurance companies can use this data to make informed decisions about coverage for interventions that improve medication adherence among breast cancer survivors.
While the study demonstrates that interventions can be helpful, the effects are relatively modest, indicating that there is room for improvement. The researchers believe that more research is needed to explore innovative ways to support breast cancer survivors in adhering to their medication regimen. By developing effective strategies to promote medication adherence, healthcare providers can ensure that breast cancer survivors receive the maximum benefits of these life-extending medications.
medication adherence is a crucial factor in the long-term treatment of breast cancer survivors. The study conducted by the University of Colorado at Boulder identifies strategies that can improve medication adherence among these patients. By implementing cost-cutting policies, utilizing mobile apps and text reminders, and addressing mental health issues, healthcare providers can support breast cancer survivors in adhering to their prescribed medication regimen. Further research is needed to develop novel approaches to enhance medication adherence and promote better outcomes for breast cancer survivors.