Patients' adherence to osteoporosis therapy: exploring the perceptions of postmenopausal women.
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OBJECTIVE: To explore the experiences and perceptions of postmenopausal women regarding strategies to improve adherence to osteoporosis therapy. DESIGN: Qualitative, mixed phenomenologic study using focus groups. SETTING: Family physicians' and specialists' practices and community pharmacies in Hamilton, Ont. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 37 postmenopausal women currently taking at least 1 prescription or over-the-counter medication for osteoporosis. METHOD: Focus groups were conducted using a semistructured interview guide consisting of 10 open-ended questions about patients' perceptions of their osteoporosis medications, their reasons for adherence and non-adherence to therapy, and the effectiveness of strategies they had tried to improve adherence. At least 2 research team members analyzed the data to find primary themes. MAIN FINDINGS: Analysis of data from the 7 focus groups found 6 main factors that influenced adherence to medications: belief in the importance of taking medications for osteoporosis, medication-specific factors, beliefs regarding medications and health, relationships with health care providers, information exchange, and strategies to improve adherence. Strategies that facilitated adherence to medications included having a system for taking medications, using cues or reminders, being well informed about the reasons for taking medications, and having regular follow-up by health care providers for support and monitoring after having been prescribed medications. CONCLUSION: Results of this study provide a better understanding of how patients' perceptions and experiences affect their adherence to osteoporosis medications. Because each patient's reasons for non-adherence might be different, depending on individual beliefs or circumstances, strategies to improve adherence to medications should be individualized accordingly.
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