Understanding Key Factors That Influence Patient Medication Behaviors

Medication Adherence Patient Adherence

Medication adherence is a complex issue that impacts the entire healthcare industry. Patients fail to take their medications as prescribed for many reasons, and the consequences are often significant.

To improve medication initiation and adherence, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of the factors that influence them. We’ll break those factors down for you:

Condition-Related Factors Can Impact Fills and Refills

Condition-related factors—such as symptoms and severity—can impact medication adherence. In many cases, a chronic condition starts as a silent disease with little-to-no obvious side effects for months or even years.

This can lead to patients being more reactive than proactive, waiting to see adverse effects before adhering to prescribed medications. For example, someone with high cholesterol might be non-adherent until they begin seeing clinical signs of heart disease.

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Socioeconomic Factors Need to Be Addressed for Health Equity

Socioeconomic factors greatly influence medication initiation and adherence. The social determinants of health (SDOH)—meaning factors related to where patients work, live, and interact—can profoundly impact their ability to adhere to prescribed treatments. The cost of medication is a massive barrier to adherence for socially vulnerable patients, who may lack adequate drug coverage. This is particularly true for high-tier, branded medications and specialty drugs for chronic conditions that don’t have generic alternatives.

Access to a pharmacy or provider also plays a role in whether or not patients are adherent. For some—especially older patients or those in more rural areas—accessing medications and educational resources is very challenging. This not only impacts medication fill rates, but also health literacy and overall understanding of a specific condition or treatment.

Medication-Related Factors Can Lead to Non-Adherence

Medication-related factors also come into play. The type of medication matters; patients are more likely to be adherent to oral medications than to other formats, such as injections. The total number of medications a patient is prescribed—and how many times a day they’re supposed to take it—can impede adherence as well. Supply is another notable factor, as patients with a 90-day supply are more likely to be adherent than those who need to refill medications every few weeks.

Side effects are another significant medication-related factor that can influence adherence. For example, some patients begin taking medication with initial side effects that may taper off as they adjust, but secede therapy before that day comes. Others may have more lasting side effects that can only be prevented with additional medications. Whatever the case is, there’s a good chance unpleasant side effects will impact adherence.

Behavioral Factors Can Contribute to Adherence Long-Term

Finally, there are the behavioral factors. For instance, inherent motivation and commitment to prioritize health and take medications as prescribed can significantly impact whether a patient is adherent. The inverse is true as well—when patients are unmotivated or noncommittal.

In some cases, something as obvious as forgetfulness or absentmindedness can get in the way of medication adherence. Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, can also play a part—especially when it comes to adherence to antidepressants or other behavioral medications.

Last but not least, denial and acceptance influence therapy initiation and adherence. When a patient is in denial about needing medication—or maybe that they even have a condition to treat at all—they’re far less likely to follow their prescriber’s instructions. This can come full circle back to condition-related factors, as denial can stem from a lack of visible symptoms.

These are only some of the more common factors that influence medication adherence. Many other factors, some very specific to each person’s unique situation, can impact whether a patient takes their medications. 

How AI Can Address Factors That Influence Medication Adherence

At the end of the day, honing in on what those factors affect medication behaviors are key to addressing them, making improvements, and achieving better health outcomes for each individual. AllazoHealth’s AI platform can predict every patient’s nonadherence risk, personalize their experience for optimal medication behaviors, and maximize patient support programs and health outcomes. The technology is validated to drive significant improvements in patient support, including up to 9 percent increase in therapy initiation rates, 14 percent increase in days on therapy, and 7 percent increase in email engagement.

Discover how AI increased length of therapy for a manufacturer through personalized patient experiences