Physician-patient congruence regarding medication regimens

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001 Oct;49(10):1353-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1532-5415.2001.49265.x.


Objectives: To characterize the degree of disparity between physicians' perceptions of older patients' medication regimen and patients' perceptions of their regimen.

Design: Prospective observational. Physicians and patients were blinded at index visit; after, trained medical students made home visits, collecting information about medications that was compared with physician questionnaires.

Setting: Community family medicine residency program.

Participants: Patients age 65 and older presenting for routine visit, taking at least four prescription medications, and seen by index physician three or more times in the past year. Physicians were family medicine faculty and second- and third-year residents.

Measurements: Fifty physician-patient pairs were analyzed. Average age was 75 (standard deviation (SD) +/-5.5); patients averaged 7.0 prescription medications (range 3-17, SD +/-2.89). Three hundred seventy-five prescription medications were identified; the most commonly prescribed were antihypertensives (134/375; 36%).

Results: Congruence, defined as agreement between physician and patient regarding all prescription medications, dosages, and frequency, averaged 70% for faculty (range 53-89%) and 58% for residents (range 41-81%) (P = .08). Fourteen percent (7/50) demonstrated complete congruence; 74% (37/50) had at least one medication that either the physician was unaware the patient was taking or the physician thought the patient was taking but that was not part of the patient's regimen; 12% (6/50) had dose and/or frequency discrepancies.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates significant disparity in a population where it is crucial for healthcare providers and patients to be in close agreement about intended medication regimens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Communication
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Polypharmacy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires