Objective: To delineate compliance with drug therapy in rheumatoid arthritis patients, determine specific characteristics of compliant and noncompliant patients, and look for changes in compliance over time.
Patients and methods: A prospective European cohort study (EURIDISS) recruited 556 patients in four countries over three years. Compliance with drug dosages and dosing times was evaluated yearly using a questionnaire.
Results: Of the 556 patients, 429 (77.2%) were on drug therapy at all three evaluation time points. Use of steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and second-line drugs varied significantly across countries. The compliance behavior was stable over time in 59.5% of them (35.7% of patients were consistently compliant and 23.8% consistently noncompliant); it was independent of disease duration and from the clinical features of the disease. Older patients and women were more likely to be compliant (odds ratios, 2.5 and 2, respectively).
Conclusion: Compliance with drug therapy can be measured using two simple questions. Compliance is more closely dependent on individual behavior than on responses to specific features of rheumatoid arthritis.