Aims: To determine the extent of non-compliance to prescribed medication in elderly patients with heart failure and to determine to what extent patients recall information given regarding their medication.
Methods and results: Non-compliance and knowledge of prescribed medication was studied in 22 elderly heart failure patients [mean age 79 +/- 6 (range 70-97); 14 (64%) male], using in-depth interviews performed 30 days after having been prescribed medication. All patients received standardised verbal and written information regarding their medication. Only 12 (55%) patients could correctly name what medication had been prescribed, 11 (50%) were unable to state the prescribed doses and 14 (64%) could not account for when the medication was to be taken, i.e. at what time of day and when in relation to meals the medication was to be taken. In the overall assessment six (27%) patients were found non-compliant and 16 (73%) patients were considered as possibly being compliant with their prescribed medication.
Conclusions: Non-compliance was common in elderly heart failure patients, as were shortcomings in patients knowledge regarding prescribed medication, despite efforts to give adequate information. There exists a need for alternative strategies to improve compliance in these patients.