Aims The aims of this study were to examine Type 2 diabetic patients’ expectations, perceptions and experiences of oral glucose-lowering agents (OGLAs), including their reasons for taking/not taking these drugs as prescribed and to provide recommendations for developing interventions to improve OGLA adherence.
Methods Longitudinal, qualitative study using repeat in-depth interviews with patients (n = 20) over 4 years following clinical diagnosis. Respondents were recruited from primary and secondary care settings across Lothian, Scotland, UK.
Results Despite experiences of side-effects, dislikes and concerns about taking multiple drugs and a belief that OGLAs could themselves cause one's diabetes to progress, most respondents appeared motivated to take these drugs as prescribed. This motivation seemed to arise from respondents’ experiences of taking OGLAs and observing them to ‘work’. Some respondents described feeling better after taking OGLAs, others, typically those who were asymptomatic, used blood glucose self-monitoring and/or glycated haemoglobin results to observe and evidence the effects of their OGLAs. Most respondents demonstrated a ‘passive’ expectation that health professionals should be responsible for decisions about medications. Hence, non-adherence typically resulted from forgetfulness rather than ambivalence about either medication or consultation style. Respondent concern about OGLA's largely centred upon lack of knowledge about the medication and what to do when doses were missed.
Conclusion The findings call for multifaceted strategies to promote adherence. These could include education to address misconceptions and advise patients how to respond to missed doses; reminders to help patients remember to take their drugs; and structured feedback on the impact of OGLAs on glycaemic control.