Author Interviews, Compliance, Electronic Records, Lung Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 07.02.2019 Interview with: Samuel Cykert, MD Professor of Medicine and Director of the Program on Health and Clinical Informatics UNC School of Medicine, and Associate Director for Medical Education, NC AHEC Program Chapel Hill, NC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Reports going as far back as the early 1990’s through reports published very recently show that Black patients with early stage, curable lung cancer are not treated with aggressive, curative treatments as often as White patients. These type of results have been shown in other cancers also. It’s particularly important for lung cancer because over 90% of these patients are  dead within 4 years if left untreated. In 2010, our group published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed that Black patients who had poor perceptions of communication (with their provider), who did not understand their prognosis with vs. without treatment, and who did not have a regular source of care ( a primary care doctor) were much less likely to get curative surgery. Also our results suggested that physicians who treated lung cancer seemed less willing to take the risk of aggressive treatments in treating Black patients (who they did not identify with as well) who had other significant illnesses. Because of the persisting disparities and our 2010 findings, we worked with a community group, the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative to consider potential solutions.  As these omissions were not overt or intentional because of race on the part of the patients or doctors, we came up with the idea that we needed transparency to shine light on treatment that wasn’t progressing and better communication to ensure that patients were deciding on good information and not acting on mistrust or false beliefs.  We also felt the need for accountability – the care teams needed to know how things were going with patients and they needed to know this according to race. To meet these specifications, we designed a system that received data from electronic health records about patients’ scheduled appointments and procedures. If a patient missed an appointment this umbrella system triggered a warning. When a warning was triggered, a nurse navigator trained specially on communication issues, re-engaged the patient to bring him/her back into care. In the system, we also programmed the timing of expected milestones in care, and if these treatment milestones were not reached in the designated time frame, a physician leader would re-engage the clinical team to consider the care options. Using this system that combined transparency through technology, essentially our real time warning registry, and humans who were accountable for the triggered warnings, care improved for both Black and White patients and the treatment disparity for Black patients was dramatically reduced. In terms of the numbers, at baseline, before the intervention, 79% of White patients completed treatment compared to 69% of Black patients. For the group who received the intervention, the rate of completed treatment for White patients was 95% and for Black patients 96.5%.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, JAMA / 01.12.2018 Interview with: Dr. Andrea Gurmankin Levy, PhD MBE Department of Social Sciences Middlesex Community College, Middletown, Connecticut What is the background for this study? Response: It is so important for clinicians to get accurate information from their patients so that they can make accurate diagnoses and appropriate recommendations. But we know that people tend to withhold information from others, and that this is especially true when it comes to sensitive information. And in fact, in medicine, there is a long-standing conventional wisdom that clinicians need to adjust patients’ answers (e.g., doubling patients’ report of alcohol consumption) to get a more accurate picture. So we wanted to explore this. How many patients withhold medically-relevant information from their clinicians, and why do they do so?  There have been surprisingly few studies looking at this question in a comprehensive way. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, JAMA, Macular Degeneration, Ophthalmology / 25.08.2018 Interview with: Jason Hsu, MD Retina Service, Wills Eye Hospital Associate Professor of Ophthalmology Thomas Jefferson University Mid Atlantic Retina Anthony Obeid MD MPH School of Public Health The University of Sydney · What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) is a vision-threatening disease that often afflicts elderly patients. The introduction of intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor treatment drastically improved the prognosis of eyes with nAMD. Despite its efficacy, patients require consistent follow-up (sometimes as often as monthly), with ongoing injections to maintain the visual benefits of the drug. Unfortunately, few studies have reported the number of patients that do not follow-up with recommended guidelines. Moreover, there remains limited evidence on the risk factors associated with loss to follow-up. Our study, consisting of 9007 patients with a history of nAMD receiving treatment between 2012 and 2016, evaluated both these parameters. We defined loss to follow-up as having at least one injection without a subsequent follow-up visit within 12 months post-treatment. Using this definition, we found that over 20% of patients are lost to follow-up over the entire study period. We further identified key risk factors associated with loss to follow-up, which included patients of older age, race, patients residing in a region of a lower average adjusted gross income, patients living at greater distances from clinic, patients with active nAMD in only one eye, and patients with worse visual acuity. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Cost of Health Care, University of Michigan / 05.08.2018 Interview with: A. Mark Fendrick, M.D. Professor, Division of General Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Health Management and Policy Director, University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2800 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: As Americans are being asked to pay more for the medical care, in terms of copayments and deductibles, one in four Americans reports having difficulty paying for their prescription drugs. One potential solution is “value-based insurance design,” or V-BID. V-BID, is built on the principle of lowering or removing financial barriers to essential, high-value clinical services. V-BID plans align patients’ out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments and deductibles, with the value of services to the patient. They are designed with the tenet of “clinical nuance” in mind— in that the clinical benefit derived from a specific service depends on the consumer using it, as well as when, where, and by whom the service is provided. According to a literature review published in the July 2018 issue of Health Affairs,  The researchers found that value-based insurance design programs which reduced consumer cost-sharing for clinically indicated medications resulted in increased adherence at no change in total spending. In other words, decreasing consumer cost-sharing meant better medication adherence for the same total cost to the insurer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Kidney Disease, Transplantation / 27.03.2018 Interview with: Bethany J. Foster, MD MSCE Montreal Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatrics, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada What is the background for this study? Response: Adolescent and young adult kidney transplant recipients have the highest risk of graft loss of any age group. One of the main reasons for this is not taking their anti-rejection medications as prescribed. Our study had the goal of testing an intervention to try to improve young patients' adherence to their strict medication schedule. The intervention included feedback of how well they were taking their medications (which was monitored electronically), text message reminders for medication doses, and individualized coaching to address their personal barriers to taking their medications. (more…)
Author Interviews, Electronic Records, Emergency Care / 09.02.2018 Interview with: Shannon Toohey, MD, MAEd Associate Residency Director, Emergency Medicine Assistant Clinical Professor, Emergency Medicine University of California, Irvine Editor-in-Chief Journal of Education and Teaching in Emergency Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Electronic prescriptions (e-prescriptions) are now the predominant form of prescription used in the US. Concern has been raised that this form of prescription may be more difficult for emergency department (ED) patients to utilize than traditional printed prescriptions, given the unplanned nature of most ED visits at all times of day. While there are disincentives for physicians who choose not to use them, many emergency physicians are still concerned that it could decrease compliance in their patients. This study evaluated prescription compliance in insured patients at a single center. In our studied population, we found that patients were as equally likely to fill paper and e-Prescriptions. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Diabetes / 15.09.2017 Interview with: Alexander Turchin, MD, MS Director of Quality in Diabetes in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension Brigham and Women's Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Anecdotally, many clinicians report that their patients with diabetes frequently decline recommendations to start treatment with insulin. However, until now, there was no systematic information available on this phenomenon. Our study has found that 30% of patients initially decline their healthcare providers’ recommendation to start insulin therapy. Patients who do ultimately start treatment with insulin, do it on average more than two years after initially declining it. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Compliance, Cost of Health Care, University Texas / 31.05.2017 Interview with: Kalyani B. Sonawane, PhD Assistant Professor/ PhD Program Director Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy College of Public Health and Health Professions University of Florida Gainesville, FL 32610 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Almost one-third of Americans have high blood pressure. Of those patients who are prescribed medication to control their blood pressure, about 30 percent have problems with side effects and nearly 50 percent will not have their blood pressure controlled within the first year of taking medication. In such scenarios, physicians have the option to either add a medication, such as fixed-dose combination, to the patient’s regimen or gradually increase a patient’s dose of their current drug to achieve blood pressure control; and gradually decrease the dose of their current drug or switch to a different drug to resolve side effects. Using healthcare claims data, we compared the economic impact of these alternative treatment modification strategies. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Compliance, Infections / 26.05.2017 Interview with: Dr. Jorge Salinas MD Epidemic intelligence service officer Division of Tuberculosis Elimination Centers for Disease Control and Prevention What is the background for this study? Response: Because multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB) treatment regimens are less effective, more complex, and are more likely to have side effects that are difficult to tolerate than regimens for drug-susceptible TB, patients with MDR TB are at a higher risk of dying. Directly observed therapy (a therapy by which patients meet with a healthcare worker at a regularly scheduled time and place so the healthcare worker can observe the patient taking their TB medication) is recommended to treat all forms of TB disease, including MDR TB. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Heart Disease, JAMA / 20.04.2017 Interview with: Robert Rosenson, MD Professor of Medicine and Cardiology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: High intensity statin therapy is underutilized in patients with acute coronary syndromes. In 2011, 27% of patients were discharged on a high intensity statin (Rosenson RS, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol). In this report, we investigate the factors associated with high adherence to high intensity statin. High adherence to high intensity statins was more common among patients who took high intensity statin prior to their hospitalization, had fewer comorbidities, received a low-income subsidy, attended cardiac rehabilitation and more visits with a cardiologist. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Primary Care, Stroke / 09.04.2017 Interview with: Anna De Simoni NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in Primary Care Research Centre for Primary Care and Public Health Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry London E1 2AB What is the background for this study? Response: Three in 10 stroke survivors will go on to have a further stroke, which causes greater disability or even death. Secondary prevention medications, including antihypertensives, blood thinning and lipid lowering agents, such as statins, can reduce risk of stroke recurrence by up to 75 per cent. However, patients’ persistence with these medications decreases over time because a minority of people experience side effects, which are mild in most cases. The analysis, involving Queen Mary University of London and the University of Cambridge and published in the journal Family Practice, was performed on the archives from TalkStroke, a UK online forum hosted by the Stroke Association. The forum is used by patients with stroke and their carers, and generated 21,596 posts during 2004-2011. 50 participants were found to discuss GP advice on prevention medications in 43 discussion threads. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Lancet, Mental Health Research, Schizophrenia / 27.02.2017 Interview with: Ernst L Noordraven MSc, PhD student Department of Psychiatry Epidemiological and Social Psychiatric Research institute Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam Netherlands What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Provision of financial incentives is a promising intervention for improving adherence in patients taking antipsychotic medication. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of this intervention for improving adherence to antipsychotic depot medication in patients with psychotic disorders, irrespective of their previous compliance. Our 12-month randomized controlled trial showed that financial incentives improved adherence to antipsychotic depot medications in patients with psychotic disorders, regardless of their level of compliance at study entrance. Patients received either treatment as usual plus a financial reward for each depot of medication received (€30 per month if fully compliant; intervention group) or treatment as usual alone (control group). Based on the use of depot registrations from 155 patients (92%), the adjusted difference in adherence was 14·9% (95% CI 8·9–20·9%; p<0·0001) in favour of the intervention group. Our study is also the first to demonstrate that the effects on medication adherence persist after monetary rewards are discontinued, for at least a 6-month follow-up period (adjusted difference 6·5%, 95% CI 2·0–10·9; p=0·047). (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Compliance, Gastrointestinal Disease, Pharmacology, Technology / 18.11.2016 Interview with: C. Giovanni Traverso, MB, BChir, PhD Gastroenterologist and biomedical engineer Division of Gastroenterology at BWH Instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We developed a drug delivery system capable of safely residing in the stomach for 2 weeks. Furthermore we demonstrated the capacity of the novel dosage form, in the shape of a star, to protect the drug from the acidic stomach environment and also slowly release drug over the course of 14 days. We applied this new technology towards efforts targeting the elimination of malaria. Specifically, we focused on a drug called ivermectin that has been used to treat parasites but also has the benefit of being toxic to malaria-carrying mosquitos when they bite someone who has ivermectin in their system. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Dermatology, JAMA / 27.10.2016 Interview with: Adewole S. Adamson, MD, MPP Department of Dermatology The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC What is the background for this study? Response: As the United States has moved to increasing levels of electronic medical record keeping, electronic prescribing has become an important part of improving the quality of care and patient experience. E-prescribing increases co-ordination between pharmacist and physician and decreases prescription errors. However, it is less certain whether e-prescribing affects patient primary adherence to medications, meaning whether or not a patient will fill and pick up their medication at the pharmacy. Although it may seem intuitive that primary adherence would increase by removing the patient from the prescription-to-pharmacy routing process, there have been few studies directly comparing primary adherence of patients given traditional paper prescriptions versus e-prescriptions. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Outcomes & Safety, Pharmacology / 12.10.2016 Interview with: Neil Smiley Founder and CEO of Loopback Analytics Editor's note: Loopback Analytics mission is to "integrate data across a myriad of healthcare information systems to bridge the expanding gaps within the care continuum". CEO Neil Smiley discusses the problem of medication adherence and possible means to address the issue. What is meant by medication "adherence"? How big a problem does this represent in term of health care outcomes and costs? Response: Medication adherence is the degree to which a patient is taking medications as prescribed. Poor medication adherence takes the lives of 125,000 Americans annually, and costs the health care system nearly $300 billion a year in additional doctor visits, emergency department visits and hospitalizations. What can be done by health care providers, systems and pharmacists to improve medication adherence? Response: There are many potential failure points after a prescription is written, that range from affordability, transportation, literacy, confusion over brand vs. generics, duplication of therapy. Many patients simply stop taking medications when they start feeling better or fail to refill chronic maintenance medications. Healthcare providers can improve adherence by anticipating and eliminating potential points of failure before they become problems. For example, high risk patients leaving the hospital are less likely to be readmitted if they get their prescriptions before they are discharged. Follow-up consultations by pharmacists can assist patients with side effects that may otherwise cause patients to abandon their treatment plan and provide patients with education on how to take medications correctly. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Cost of Health Care / 29.08.2016 Interview with: Elizabeth Geneva Wood, MHPA Department of Health Policy and Administration College of Nursing Washington State University Spokane What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many people don’t fill prescriptions because they can’t afford them, which is risky for their health. The problem of cost-related nonadherence to prescriptions (CRN) was increasing in prevalence over time until several major policy changes in the 2000s that were intended to help prescription affordability and/or access to health insurance. We observed that each of these major policy changes corresponded with a decrease in CRN among the policy’s target population. For seniors, CRN dropped in 2006, when Medicare Part D came into effect. For younger adults (19-25), CRN dropped in 2010, when the Affordable Care Act began allowing them to stay on their parents’ insurance. Cost-related nonadherence rates also dropped for all non-elderly adults (including the younger ones) in 2014 and 2015, when the Medicaid expansion and the introduction of the health insurance marketplaces offered coverage to many previously-uninsured adults. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Hospital Readmissions / 13.07.2016 Interview with: Jennifer Polinski, Senior Director Enterprise Evaluation and Population Health Analytics CVS Health Woonsocket, Rhode Island What is the background for this study? Response: Unnecessary and often preventable hospital readmissions are a growing and costly issue. An estimated one in seven patients discharged from a hospital is readmitted within 30 days, and startlingly, readmissions are associated with more than $41 billion in additional health care costs per year. In addition, evidence suggests that approximately 66 percent of hospital readmissions are the result of adverse health events related to medication non-adherence. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Columbia, Compliance, Heart Disease / 17.06.2016 Interview with: Ian Kronish, MD, MPH Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Medicine Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health Columbia University Medical Center What is the background for this study? Dr. Kronish: Prior studies have shown that adherence to statins is suboptimal both in patients prescribed statins for primary prevention and in high-risk patients who are prescribed statins to prevent recurrent events. But, to our knowledge, prior studies had not examined the impact of a hospitalization for a myocardial infarction (MI) on subsequent adherence to statins. We wondered whether the hospitalization would serve as a wake-up call that led patients to become more adherent after the MI. At the same time, we were concerned that the physical and psychological distress that arises after a hospitalization for an MI may lead to a decline in statin adherence. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Compliance / 04.06.2016 Interview with: Dr Prashanth Patel MSc, FRCP, FRCPath Consultant Metabolic Physician/ Chemical Pathologist and Head of Service Department of Chemical Pathology and Metabolic Diseases Honorary Senior Lecturer Dept of Cardiovascular Sciences University of Leicester What is the background for this study? Dr. Patel: Hypertension (HTN) is one of the most important and common chronic treatable condition. It affects nearly one third of the adult population. Nearly one fifth of patients treated for hypertension are thought to be resistant to treatment and these patients have a high mortality from cardiovascular diseases. Percutaneous radiofrequency catheter-based renal sympathetic denervation (renal denervation, RD) may be a potential treatment for resistant hypertension. Although RD is a safe procedure, it is irreversible and expensive. It is important that patients’ suitability for renal denervation is carefully assessed to maximise the potential benefits of the procedure. Therefore causes of pseudo-resistant hypertension namely white-coat hypertension, suboptimal pharmacological antihypertensive treatment and non-adherence to antihypertensive medications and secondary hypertension are needed to be robustly ruled out before considering a patient as suitable for renal denervation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Heart Disease, JACC / 05.05.2016 Interview with: Dr. Kevin Curl, MD Sidney Kimmel Medical College Jefferson University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Curl: If left untreated, half of coronary bypass vein grafts will become occluded within 10 years of surgery.  We reviewed the health records of over 350 patients who had a previous coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) a minimum of three years prior.  Our goal was to identify the long-term trends with medication adherence in this high risk population, namely aspirin and statin medications.  The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend both statins and aspirin medications unless they are unsafe for the individual patient. The mean age of the study population was 69 years, most patients had previously undergone "triple bypass" with 3 grafts, and the mean time from surgery was 11 years.  We found that only 52 percent of patients were taking both aspirin and a statin medication. In addition, patients not taking a statin had higher (22 percent) low-density lipid or “bad” cholesterol. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Gender Differences, Heart Disease / 28.04.2016 Interview with: Sherry L. Grace, PhD Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Science York University Sr. Scientist, Cardiorespiratory Fitness Team Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network Toronto Western Hospital Toronto, ON What is the background for this study? Dr. Grace: Cardiac rehabilitation is an outpatient chronic disease management program. It is a standardized model of care, comprised of risk factor assessment and management, exercise training, patient education, as well and dietary and psychosocial counseling. Patients generally attend two times a week for several months. Participation in cardiac rehab has been shown to reduce death and disability. This is a dose-response association, such that more cardiac rehab participation is associated with even less death, etc. Therefore, it is important that patients adhere to the program, or participate in all the prescribed sessions. No one has ever reviewed patient adherence to cardiac rehab in a systematic way. It has always been assumed that patients only attend about half of prescribed sessions. Also, many studies have shown that women attend fewer sessions than men. However, this has been known for some time, so we would hope that in the current era, this sex difference would not exist. No study has ever aggregated and analyzed sex differences in program adherence, so we set out to do this. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Compliance, Genetic Research, Mammograms / 27.04.2016 Interview with: Stamatia Destounis, MD, FSBI, FACR Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, LLC, Clinical Professor of Imaging Sciences University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry  Rochester NY 14620 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Destounis: Identification of women who have an increased risk of breast cancer is important, as they are often eligible for additional screening methods, such as breast MRI. One criterion for eligibility for screening breast MRI is >20% lifetime risk of breast cancer, as determined by risk assessment models through genetic counseling. At my facility, we have incorporated a genetics program. Through the program we are flagging and identifying a large volume of patients who are potentially eligible for additional services. This study was conducted to determine the value of screening MRI in the patient subgroup who have undergone genetic counseling at my facility. In this group we found 50% of patients who were referred for counseling were also recommended to have screening MRI. However, only 21.3% of those recommended actually pursued the exam. Of those patients who did have a screening MRI, 4 were diagnosed with breast cancer, all of which were invasive and node negative. We ultimately had a 10% biopsy rate and 50% cancer detection rate in this subgroup. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Infections / 01.04.2016 Interview with: Loren G. Miller, M.D., M.P.H. Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Division of Infectious Diseases Los Angeles BioMedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Torrance CA 90502 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Miller: We know that medication adherence (compliance) by patients to all sort of treatments for a variety of diseases is suboptimal. Adherence to medication varies a lot by disease state (e.g. it is typically high in cancer and low in hypertension), but adherence to antibiotics for skin infection is unstudied. We wanted to find out what adherence is to antibiotics for patients with skin infections is and whether it was associated with important clinical outcomes. We measured patients adherence to antibiotic dosing by using medication containers fitted with electronic caps that reported when the patient opened the antibiotic container. We followed 87 patients who had been hospitalized and suffered S. aureus associated skin and soft tissue infections We found that patients with S. aureus skin and soft tissue infections, on average, took just 57% of their prescribed antibiotic doses after leaving the hospital. Lower antibiotic adherence was associated with a higher chance of skin infection relapse or recurrence. Interestingly, we also found a large discrepancy in patient reports and the electronic measurement. Patients reported taking, on average, 96% of their medication, or nearly twice the 57% reported by the electronic caps. This suggests that asking patients how well they took their medication is highly problematic as non-adherent patients will typically vastly overstate their medication adherence. We also found higher rates of non-adherence to antibiotic regimens among patients who were prescribed more than one antibiotic after leaving the hospital, didn’t see the same healthcare provider for follow-up visits or felt they didn’t have a regular healthcare provider (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Neurological Disorders, Stroke / 23.02.2016 Interview with: Dr-William-Patrick-Neil William P. Neil, MD Vascular Neurologist SCPMG Regional Stroke Champion Neurology    Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Neil: Stroke survivors are less likely to have a recurrent stroke, or other complications if they take their medications as prescribed by their doctor. Mail order pharmacies are increasingly being used to deliver medications for a variety of diseases, and their use is associated with better medication adherence.  We wanted to see whether stroke patients who use mail-order pharmacies were more likely to have good medication adherence than those who used  local pharmacies. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Neil: We looked through a large electronic medical database in California, and found a total of 48,746 people discharged from the hospital with a stroke, and who also filled either a cholesterol medication or an anticoagulant (blood thinner). Of these, 136,722 refills were from a local pharmacy and 68,363 were by mail. Overall, patients were adherent to the medications 46.5% of the time if they picked up the medication from the pharmacy and 74% of the time if they had prescriptions mailed to them. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Compliance / 19.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Madhur Garg MD Professor, Clinical director, Department of Radiation Oncology Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Bronx, NY 10467 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Garg: In most curative settings, external beam radiotherapy (RT) for the treatment of solid tumors is delivered five days each week over multiple weeks in an outpatient setting. Unintended treatment prolongation, generally attributed to treatment toxicity or inter-current illness, has been associated with inferior tumor control in a number of disease sites. Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care recently identified radiotherapy (RT) noncompliance as a prevalent issue among patients receiving RT with curative intent. Approximately 20% of patients were deemed to be noncompliant, and statistically significant predictors of noncompliance risk included diagnosis, treatment course length, and socioeconomic status (SES). In this report, we examined if radiotherapy noncompliance is associated with clinical outcomes in our patient population. In this analysis, we have found that treatment noncompliance is associated with inferior clinical outcomes for patients receiving radiotherapy with curative intent. The associations we detected were both statistically significant and clinically meaningful and consistent across disease sites. This is a novel finding that may have significant implications for how cancer care delivery can be improved, particularly in disadvantaged patient populations. Our finding that  radiotherapy noncompliance is strongly associated with inferior outcomes, even after adjusting for confounders such as comorbidity index and SES, suggests to us that noncompliance may serve as a behavioral biomarker for other risk factors that contribute to poor outcomes. These may include noncompliance with other important clinician visits and procedures, lack of social support, and mood disorders. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, HIV, Lancet / 03.02.2016 Interview with: Dr Marcel Yotebieng, PhD Department of Epidemiology Ohio State University, 304 Cunz Hall Columbus, OH Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: With the current World Health Organization recommended treatment for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), the risk of transmission of HIV from an infected mother to her baby can be cut from 35-45% to less than 5% in breastfeeding population and <1% in non-breastfeeding population. But in sub-Saharan Africa where over 90% of HIV-infected pregnant women worldwide live, transportation costs and opportunity costs to attend regular clinic visits (to collect drugs) have been identified as important barriers to PMTCT. The provision of economic incentives has the potential to help women overcome these economic barriers. In addition, by creating immediate rewards that “nudge” individuals towards positive health behaviors, financial incentives can also address psychological barriers to health-seeking behavior of HIV-infected pregnant and breastfeeding women. This is the first study to use small cash incentives to encourage women to attend clinic visit and received available PMTCT care. We found that, among newly diagnosed HIV-infected women, small, incremental cash incentives resulted in increased retention along the  prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission cascade and uptake of available services. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, JAMA, Technology / 01.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Clara Chow PhD Director of the Cardiovascular division The George Institute, Westmead Hospital Sydney, Australia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Chow: Text messaging has immense potential in healthcare. Not only for supporting medication adherence, but we have shown in the “TEXT ME” study its ability to simultaneously influence multiple lifestyle domains like increasing physical activity, embarking on healthier diets and reducing smoking rates. With increasing penetration of mobile phone use in developed as well as developing countries, there is a potential for wider reach, however there remains a need to evaluate the value of text messaging programs in various patient populations to establish the generalizability of these research findings. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Compliance, Pharmacology / 31.08.2015

Dr M Lobo PhD FRCP Director Barts BP Centre of Excellence Consultant Physician and Hon Senior Lecturer NIHR Barts Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit William Harvey Research Institute, London Interview with: Dr M Lobo PhD FRCP Director Barts BP Centre of Excellence Consultant Physician and Hon Senior Lecturer NIHR Barts Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit William Harvey Research Institute, London Medical Research: What hypothesis did you set out to investigate and why? Dr. Lobo: We investigated the clinical utility of a novel treatment algorithm for multi-drug intolerant patients with hypertension who are at very high risk of cardiovascular disease due to uncontrolled blood pressure and inability to take conventional (guideline-based) antihypertensive regiments. These patients are often poorly managed by primary care physicians (or specialists such as cardiologists) because there has been little interest/research in medication intolerance. There has however been a major focus on drug non-adherence as a cause of failure to control hypertension - we believe that a key cause of non-adherence is medication intolerance which patients do not always volunteer. Medical Research: What is the report's ultimate take-away message? Dr. Lobo: Our novel stepwise algorithm was successful in managing uncontrolled hypertension in the majority of patients without needing an increase in their medicines burden. The message therefore is that patients who do not tolerate their antihypertensives do not have to put up with side effects and resultant poor quality of life as we have demonstrated that there are ways to get around medication intolerances. (more…)
Author Interviews, Compliance, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 19.08.2015

Louanne Bakk, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Director, Institute on Innovative Aging Policy and Practice School of Social Work The University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY 14260 Interview with: Louanne Bakk, Ph.D Assistant Professor Director, Institute on Innovative Aging Policy and Practice School of Social Work The University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY  14260 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bakk: Medicare Part D reduces out-of-pocket health care costs and increases access to medications.  While overall the benefit has facilitated the purchase of medications, cost sharing exists and be particularly difficult for more vulnerable populations.  Racial and gender disparities in cost-related nonadherence (CRN)  exist under Medicare Part D plans.  However, it was unknown whether the impact of the coverage gap on older Blacks and females.  This study examined whether the Medicare Part D coverage gap directly and indirectly affects the relationship between race, gender, and CRN. Racial differences in cost-related nonadherence were largely driven by reaching the coverage gap.  In other words, the gap appears to be more difficult for older Blacks than Whites.  Additionally, both reaching and not reaching the coverage gap, poorer health and having a lower income were associated with cost-related nonadherence . (more…)