Older people and adherence with medication: a review of the literature

Int J Nurs Stud. 2008 Oct;45(10):1550-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.02.009.


Background: Older people represent a sizeable population of the UK. Many older people receive drug treatment for long-term conditions. Adherence with medication is therefore an important clinical, financial and resource intensive concern.

Objectives: This review aimed to examine patient's beliefs, perceptions and views in relation to adherence with medication.

Design: A comprehensive search of the literature was undertaken using numerous approaches. The search of revealed 30 research papers.

Findings: Articles were initially evaluated using Critical Appraisal Skills Programme principles to identify those relevant to the review. Relevant studies were then subjected to a narrative analysis to assist the development of relevant themes. Four themes were identified; experience of adherence; perceptions and attitudes to medication adherence and non-adherence; patients acceptance of their illness and impact on medication taking behaviour and shared decision making.

Conclusions: The findings of this review imply that there is a need for more emphasis on shared decision making between the older patient and the prescriber. Using this approach, adherence with medication may improve. There is also a need to develop a standardized measure of medication adherence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged / psychology*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Decision Making
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Medication Adherence / psychology*
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data
  • Models, Nursing
  • Models, Psychological
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Nursing Research / organization & administration*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Research Design
  • Risk Assessment
  • United Kingdom