HealthDay News — Approximately 30% to 50% of U.S adults do not adhere to long-term medications, resulting in an estimated $100 billion in preventable healthcare costs annually.

To identify barriers and develop tailored interventions, implementing systematic monitoring for medication adherence is necessary, Zachary A. Marcum, PharmD, of the the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues suggest.

“We propose that the first step is to view medication non-adherence as a diagnosable and treatable medical condition,” they wrote in a Journal of the American Medical Association Viewpoint.

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Currently, most U.S. clinicians are not formally trained in screening for or diagnosing medication non-adherence. To meet this need.

“Based on identified barriers derived from systematic screening, patient-tailored interventions can be delivered in a safe, effective, and efficient manner, with systematic monitoring over time due to the dynamic process of medication adherence,” they wrote. “Synergism among multiple disciplines is necessary to successfully improve medication adherence for adults.”

Attempts have been made to improve medication adherence, with education interventions with behavioral support effective for several chronic diseases at the patient level. Few studies have specifically recruited participants with difficulties in medication adherence or targeted participants’ barriers to adherence.

To have public health effects, measures of medication adherence should be recorded in the electronic health record, which would allow for sharing among healthcare professionals and insurers and establishment of trends, the researchers suggest.

“Consistent with Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute goals and priorities, community and patient partners should be identified and included throughout the planning and implementation of future studies,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Marcum ZA, Sevick MA, Handler SM. JAMA. 2013; 309(20): 2105-2106.