Enhancing medication adherence in patients with bipolar disorder
Article first published online: 29 DEC 2009
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental
Volume 25, Issue 1, pages 1–16, January 2010
How to Cite
Berk, L., Hallam, K. T., Colom, F., Vieta, E., Hasty, M., Macneil, C. and Berk, M. (2010), Enhancing medication adherence in patients with bipolar disorder. Hum. Psychopharmacol. Clin. Exp., 25: 1–16. doi: 10.1002/hup.1081
- Issue published online: 29 DEC 2009
- Article first published online: 29 DEC 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 OCT 2009
- Manuscript Received: 20 MAY 2008
- bipolar disorder;
- psychosocial intervention
Medication adherence contributes to the efficacy-effectiveness gap of treatment in patients with bipolar disorder. This paper aims to examine the challenges involved in improving medication adherence in bipolar disorder, and to extract some suggestions for future directions from the core psychosocial studies that have targeted adherence as a primary or secondary outcome.
A search was conducted for articles that focused on medication adherence in bipolar disorder, with emphasis on publications from 1996 to 2008 using Medline, Web of Science, CINAHL PLUS, and PsychINFO. The following key words were used: adherence, compliance, alliance, adherence assessment, adherence measurement, risk factors, psychosocial interventions, and psycho-education.
There are a number of challenges to understanding non-adherence including the difficulty in defining and measuring it and the various risk factors that need to be considered when aiming to enhance adherence. Nevertheless, the importance of addressing adherence is evidenced by the connection between adherence problems and poor outcome. Despite these challenges, a number of small psychosocial studies targeting adherence as a primary outcome point to the potential usefulness of psycho-education aimed at improving knowledge, attitudes, and adherence behavior, but more large scale randomized controlled trials are needed in this area. Evidence of improved outcomes from larger randomized controlled trials of psychosocial interventions that target medication adherence as a secondary outcome suggests that tackling other factors besides medication adherence may also be an advantage. While some of these larger studies demonstrate an improvement in medication adherence, the translation of these interventions into real life settings may not always be practical. A person centered approach that considers risk factors for non-adherence and barriers to other health behaviors may assist with the development of more targeted briefer interventions. Integral to improving medication adherence is the delivery of psycho-education, and attention needs to be paid to the implementation, and timing of psycho-education. Progress in the understanding of how medicines work may add to the credibility of psycho-education in the future.
Enhancement of treatment adherence in bipolar patients is a necessary and promising management component as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy. The current literature on psychosocial interventions that target medication adherence in bipolar disorder points to the possibility of refining the concept of non-adherence and adapting psycho-education to the needs of certain subgroups of people with bipolar disorder. Large scale randomized controlled trials of briefer or more condensed interventions are needed that can inform clinical practice. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.