Interventions to improve adherence to medication in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus: the role of nurses




Nurses now provide the majority of education and support for people with diabetes both in community and hospital settings. However, there are very few studies on nurse-led interventions to improve adherence to medication, a crucial element of the self-management of diabetes.

The four studies reviewed formed a subgroup of a Cochrane review on interventions to improve adherence to medication in people with type 2 diabetes. Search terms were ‘type 2 diabetes mellitus’ and ‘compliance’ or ‘adherence’. Studies were included if they assessed adherence to medical treatment specifically, rather than other aspects of self-management. Out of the 21 studies selected for review, four described an intervention delivered by a nurse.

All four studies were from the USA and used an intervention delivered by telephone. Different interventions (two educational programmes, one automated telephone management system, one tracking system for health service and medication use) were backed up by a scripted nurse call. While patients in two studies reported improvements in self-care behaviour, only one measured a significant improvement in blood glucose control. Although some studies asked patients to report on their adherence to medication taking, responses from patients were not explicitly presented.

The studies reviewed show the potential for generating evidence for the effectiveness of nurse-led diabetes management programmes. Further high-quality studies into this area are desperately needed, and they should consider new ways of evaluating complex interventions to generate more evidence. Copyright © 2006 FEND.