Self-report adherence measures in chronic illness: retest reliability and predictive validity

Med Care. 2008 Nov;46(11):1134-9. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e31817924e4.


Background: Patient self-report is a practical method for measuring adherence, but little is known about its optimal use.

Objectives: To examine the retest reliability and predictive validity of 3 different types of self-report adherence measures among patients with common chronic illnesses.

Research design: Correlation and regression analyses of data from an ongoing randomized controlled trial.

Subjects: Patients (N = 415) aged >or=40 years recruited from a primary care network with arthritis, asthma, chronic lung disease, congestive heart failure, depression, and/or diabetes mellitus, plus impairment in >or=1 basic activity and/or a score of >or=4 on the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.

Measures: : Self-report adherence (administered variously at baseline, 2, 4, and 6 weeks, and 6 months): number of pills taken/number of pills prescribed (PT/PP), using 1-7 days recall, and global reports of medication adherence and overall adherence tendencies. Six-month functional outcomes: Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) and Short Form-36 (SF-36).

Results: Correlation coefficients among contemporaneously administered 1-7 days PT/PP measures were >or=0.78. Correlations among PT/PP measures and global adherence measures, and among PT/PP measures at 2 and 4 weeks, ranged from 0.11 to 0.54. PT/PP measures using >or=3-4 days recall significantly predicted adjusted 6-month HAQ but not SF-36 score.

Conclusions: Self-report PT/PP and general medication adherence measures tap different behavioral constructs. Self-reported PT/PP at a given point in time is not necessarily representative of medication adherence over time. Among chronically ill patients, 3-4 days recall of PT/PP yield adherence estimates, which are practically as reliable and valid as longer intervals and which predict functional outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy*
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Socioeconomic Factors