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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Kimberly Jamie

Rathbone, Adam Pattison, Jamie, Kimberly, Todd, Adam & Husband, Andrew (Published). A qualitative study exploring the lived experience of medication use in different disease states: linking experiences of disease symptoms to medication adherence. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics

Author(s) from Durham


What is known:
Medication non‐adherence leads to negative health outcomes. Medication adherence is predicted if patients understand the necessity of medication use to control disease symptoms and progression. It could be expected then, that patients with diseases with symptoms which are managed with medications, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or gout, or diseases with high‐mortality rates, such as cancer, would have higher adherence rates than asymptomatic diseases, such as hypertension. However, poor medication adherence remains problematic in both symptomatic and asymptomatic diseases. Further work is needed to explore patient experiences of medication adherence to understand the link between adherence and symptom control.

To explore patients' lived experiences of medication adherence.

Participants were recruited from community pharmacies and general practices. Forty‐one semi‐structured interviews and three focus groups were used to collect data from patients with disease states that had different symptomatic and asymptomatic profiles. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify key parts of the experience of using medications.

Participants reported similar experiences of medication adherence despite having different disease symptoms. Participants said that they used medications because it was an expected part of everyday life and that medications ‘must be needed’ because they had been supplied, rather than being used for a particular symptom. Participants reported short‐term episodes of non‐adherence were unlikely to lead to negative health outcomes but may result in negative social consequences.

The findings broaden our understanding of patient experiences of medication use by indicating patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic diseases share similar experiences of medication use. The necessity to use medications appeared to come from ‘the system’ of healthcare professionals, family and friends that supply and recommend medications.

What is new:
There were key similarities in experiences of medication adherence in patients with different disease states. The negative consequences of short‐term episodes of non‐adherence were normalized by healthcare professionals.

Patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic diseases share similar experiences of medication adherence.