Background: poor adherence to antidepressant medication may account for a significant proportion of treatment failures. Adherence levels and factors associated with adherence have not previously been studied in older people.
Objectives: to report the prevalence and correlates of adherence to antidepressants in people > or = 65 years of age in a primary care setting.
Method: sixty-seven patients currently being prescribed antidepressants from a single rural general practice were assessed using a range of questionnaires measuring adherence to antidepressants, severity of depression, specific health education about antidepressants, level of side-effects, insight, positive and negatives beliefs about medication in general and antidepressants in particular, level of intellectual functioning (past and present), a past history of recovery from depression, type of antidepressant, complexity of prescriptions, age and living arrangements.
Results: forty-five participants (67.2%) were fully adherent; seven (10.4%) mostly adherent, three (4.5%) adhered sometimes, three rarely and nine (13.4%) never. Backwards linear regression found that adherence increased with information given and cognitive impairment and decreased with concerns about taking antidepressants and severity of side-effects.
Conclusions: non-adherence to antidepressant medication is a significant problem in older patients. Our study probably overestimated adherence as it was self-report, which usually overestimates adherence and the refusals are more likely to have been people not taking tablets but still found nearly one third of the patients were non-adherent. An intervention comprising education, eliciting and addressing specific concerns about antidepressant medication and using medication, which minimises side effects, may be helpful.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.