Adherence to Oral Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes: Opportunities for Enhancing Glycemic Control


  • David Bartels PharmD, BCPS, CDE

    1. David W. Barrels, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy and College of Medicine at Rockford, Illinois. Contact Dr. Bartels by e-mail at
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Although diet and exercise are important parts of type 2 diabetes treatment, most patients require pharmacological intervention with multiple agents to maintain adequate glycemic control. This article addresses the numerous patient-related, disease-related, and demographic variables affecting medication adherence in this patient population.

Data Sources

Extensive review of scientific literature, clinical practice guidelines, and Internet sources.


Studies have demonstrated that treatments including multiple medications or frequent dosing had a negative impact on adherence. Practitioners have used several approaches in an effort to improve adherence to oral antidiabetic medical therapy, including increased communication between health care providers and patients, implementation of multidisciplinary programs, and use of treatment regimens with easier dosing (i.e., reduced number of drugs or doses taken per day).

Implications for Practice

Options for type 2 diabetes treatments that combine effective medications into a simpler oral-dosage form may motivate and improve patient adherence. Ultimately, simplifying dosing may lead to better glycemic control, thereby reducing the risks associated with long-term consequences of the disease.