Adherence to lipid-lowering treatment: the patient perspective
Despite the widespread prescription of highly effective lipid-lowering medications, such as the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), a large portion of the population has lipid levels higher than the recommended goals. Treatment failures have been attributed to a variety of causes but the most important is likely to be poor adherence to therapy in the form of irregular or interrupted intake and the high frequency of discontinuation or lack of persistence. Adherence is a multidimensional phenomenon determined by the interplay of patient factors, physician factors, and health care system factors. Patients’ knowledge and beliefs about their illness, motivation to manage it, confidence in their ability to engage in illness-management behaviors, and expectations regarding the outcome of treatment and the consequences of poor adherence interact to influence adherence behavior. Patient-related factors account for the largest incremental explanatory power in predicting adherence. This article provides an overview of this critical issue, focusing on patient role in determining adherence level to lipid-lowering therapy.