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Depression associated with poor medication adherence in patients with chronic illnesses
Date:5/10/2011

People who are depressed are less likely to adhere to medications for their chronic health problems than patients who are not depressed, putting them at increased risk of poor health, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Researchers found that depressed patients across a wide array of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease had 76 percent greater odds of being non-adherent with their medications compared to patients who were not depressed. The findings were published online by the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The study is the largest systematic review to date to look at the role that depression plays in medication adherence among patients in the United States.

"These findings provide the best evidence to date that depression is an important risk factor that may influence whether patients adhere to their medications," said Dr. Walid F. Gellad, the study's senior author and a natural scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "There are important implications for both patient health and for health care costs.

"Doctors and other providers should periodically ask patients with depression about medication adherence. Also, when treating a patient who is not taking their medication correctly, they should consider the possibility that depression is contributing to the problem."

Poor adherence to prescribed medication is a well-known problem that is associated with higher death rates among people with chronic illnesses. It is also blamed for increasing U.S. health care costs.

Researchers from RAND and the Claremont Graduate School conducted the study by examining past studies that have measured medication adherence. They combined information from 31 studies involving more than 18,000 people -- significantly more than past reviews to examine the link between medication adherence and depression.

The study is the first to review the association between depress
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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