Background: Noncompliance is a major factor in the morbidity and unnecessary hospital readmissions for patients with heart failure. Several studies have aimed to reduce rehospitalizations in heart failure patients through a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach. Medication compliance was rarely measured in these studies or, when it was measured, the method employed was seldom valid. We aimed at determining the effect of a pharmacist-led intervention on medication compliance in patients with heart failure.
Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial into the effect of a pharmacist-led intervention on medication compliance in patients with heart failure (predominantly New York Heart Association [NYHA] II and III) treated with loop diuretics, presenting to a cardiology outpatient clinic or admitted to hospitals in The Netherlands. Patients in the intervention group received monthly consultations from their community pharmacist during a 6-month period. Patients in the control group received usual care. Primary endpoint was medication compliance, assessed with a medication event monitoring system, an electronic pill bottle that registers time of opening. Secondary endpoints were the number of rehospitalizations, death, and quality of life.
Results: A total of 152 patients were randomized: 74 patients to the intervention arm and 78 patients to the usual care arm. Over the 6-month study period, patients in the intervention group had 140/7656 days without use of loop diuretics compared with 337/6196 days in the usual care group (relative risk 0.33 [confidence interval (CI) 95% 0.24-0.38]). Two consecutive days of nondosing occurred on 18/7656 days in the intervention group compared with 46/6196 days in the usual care group (relative risk 0.32 [CI 95% 0.19-0.55]). There were no significant differences in rehospitalizations, mortality, or disease-specific quality of life between groups.
Conclusions: A pharmacy-led intervention can improve medication compliance in patients with moderate to severe heart failure, even in those with relatively high compliance. Future interventions should also focus at less compliant patients.