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Patients’ problems with new medication for chronic conditions
  1. N Barber1,
  2. J Parsons1,
  3. S Clifford1,
  4. R Darracott2,
  5. R Horne3
  1. 1Department of Practice and Policy, The School of Pharmacy, London, UK
  2. 2Professional Services Manager, Moss Pharmacy, Fern House, 53–55 High Street, Feltham, Middlesex, UK
  3. 3Professor of Psychology in Health Care, University of Brighton, Sussex, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor N Barber
 Department of Practice and Policy, The School of Pharmacy, 29/39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX;


Objectives: To assess patients’ adherence to new medication for a chronic condition (and whether non-adherence was intentional), patients’ problems with their medication, and their further information needs.

Methods: A longitudinal survey with data collection at 10 days and 4 weeks was performed on 258 patients recruited from 23 community pharmacies in south east England. Patients were eligible to participate if they were starting a new chronic medication and were either 75 years or older or had one of the following chronic conditions: stroke, coronary heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. At each time point a semi-structured telephone interview was conducted and a postal questionnaire was sent.

Main outcome measures: Self-reported adherence, causes of non-adherence, problems with medication, information needs.

Results: Sixty seven (30%) of 226 patients still taking their medication at 10 days and 43 of 171 (25%) still taking their medication at 4 weeks were non-adherent. At 10 days 55% of the non-adherence was unintentional and the remainder was intentional; these proportions were similar at 4 weeks. 138 of 208 (66%) participants still taking their new medication at 10 days reported at least one problem with it. 137 of 226 patients (61%) expressed a substantial and sustained need for further information at 10 days and 88 of 171 (51%) at 4 weeks. Several patients who were adherent or reported no problems at 10 days were non-adherent or had problems at 4 weeks.

Conclusions: A significant proportion of patients newly started on a chronic medication quickly become non-adherent, often intentionally so. Many have problems with their medication and information needs. Patients need more support when starting on new medication for a chronic condition and new services may be required to provide this.

  • non-adherence
  • drug prescriptions
  • patients’ problems

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  • J Parsons is now at the Vera Institute of Justice, New York, USA and R Darracott is now Director of Corporate and Strategic Development, Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.