Adherence to medications in systemic lupus erythematosus

J Clin Rheumatol. 2008 Aug;14(4):195-201. doi: 10.1097/RHU.0b013e31817a242a.


Background: Lack of adherence is a ubiquitous problem which can be a hindrance in the treatment of chronic conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Objectives: A random sample of 63 SLE patients attending rheumatology clinics associated with University Medical Centers were surveyed to measure level of adherence to their SLE medications and to identify the risk factors that have been associated previously with nonadherence to these medications.

Methods: Information on traditional SLE outcomes was obtained by face-to-face interviews and medical record review. Various patient proposed strategies were identified to improve adherence to these medications.

Results: When considering adherence estimates of > or =80% as representing sufficient adherence for achieving a therapeutic response, adherence to medications was only modestly adherent, likely limiting the effectiveness of the prescribed medication regimens. Based on pharmacy refill information 61% of the patients were sufficiently adherent to prednisone, 49% to hydroxychloroquine, and 57% to other immunosuppressant medications. Significant risk factors of insufficient adherence included being single, low educational level, presence of other comorbidities, limited comprehension of physician explanations and instructions, and having to take the medication more than one daily. Based on subject reports, busy life styles were among the most important barriers to adherence whereas pillboxes were considered most helpful for helping with medication adherence.

Conclusion: Although lack of sufficient adherence to medications appears to be a multifactorial problem, improved communication between the healthcare provider and the patient, and less complicated medication regimens, may be especially suitable interventions to improve adherence to medications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine / therapeutic use
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Young Adult


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Prednisone