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Summary

Objectives:  To review studies of patient compliance/persistence with cardiovascular or antidiabetic medication published since the year 2000; to compare the methods used to measure compliance/persistence across studies; to compare reported compliance/persistence rates across therapeutic classes and to assess whether compliance/persistence correlates with clinical outcomes.

Methods:  English language papers published between January 2000 and November 2005 investigating patient compliance/persistence with cardiovascular or antidiabetic medication were identified through searches of the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases. Definitions and measurements of compliance/persistence were compared across therapeutic areas using contingency tables.

Results:  Of the 139 studies analysed, 32% focused on hypertension, 27% on diabetes and 13% on dyslipidaemia. The remainder covered coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in general. The most frequently reported measure of compliance was the 12-month medication possession ratio (MPR). The overall mean MPR was 72%, and the MPR did not differ significantly between treatment classes (range: 67–76%). The average proportion of patients with an MPR of > 80% was 59% overall, 64% for antihypertensives, 58% for oral antidiabetics, 51% for lipid-lowering agents and 69% in studies of multiple treatments, again with no significant difference between treatment classes. The average 12-month persistence rate was 63% and was similar across therapeutic classes. Good compliance had a positive effect on outcome in 73% of the studies examining clinical outcomes.

Conclusions:  Non-compliance with cardiovascular and antidiabetic medication is a significant problem, with around 30% of days ‘on therapy’ not covered by medication and only 59% of patients taking medication for more than 80% of their days ‘on therapy’ in a year. Good compliance has a positive effect on clinical outcome, suggesting that the management of CVD may be improved by improving patient compliance.