Effect of a pharmacist-led intervention on diuretic compliance in heart failure patients: a randomized controlled study

J Card Fail. 2003 Oct;9(5):404-11. doi: 10.1054/s1071-9164(03)00130-1.


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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pharmaceutical Services / organization & administration*
  • Pharmacists
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Diuretics