Background: A validated tool to assess adherence with inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) could help physicians and researchers determine whether poor asthma control is due to poor adherence or severe intrinsic asthma.
Objective: To assess the performance of the Medication Adherence Report Scale for Asthma (MARS-A), a 10-item, self-reported measure of adherence with ICS.
Methods: We interviewed 318 asthmatic adults receiving care at 2 inner-city clinics. Self-reported adherence with ICS was measured by MARS-A at baseline and 1 and 3 months. ICS adherence was measured electronically in 53 patients. Electronic adherence was the percentage of days patients used ICS. Patients with a mean MARS-A score of 4.5 or higher or with electronic adherence of more than 70% were defined as good adherers. We assessed internal validity (Cronbach alpha, test-retest correlations), criterion validity (associations between self-reported adherence and electronic adherence), and construct validity (correlating self-reported adherence with ICS beliefs).
Results: The mean patient age was 47 years; 40% of patients were Hispanic, 40% were black, and 18% were white; 53% had prior asthma hospitalizations; and 70% had prior oral steroid use. Electronic substudy patients were similar to the rest of the cohort in age, sex, race, and asthma severity. MARS-A had good interitem correlation in English and Spanish (Cronbach alpha = 0.85 and 0.86, respectively) and good test-retest reliability (r = 0.65, P < .001). According to electronic measurements, patients used ICS 52% of days. Continuous MARS-A scores correlated with continuous electronic adherence (r = 0.42, P<.001), and dichotomized high self-reported adherence predicted high electronic adherence (odds ratio, 10.6; 95% confidence interval, 2.5-44.5; P < .001). Construct validity was good, with self-reported adherence higher in those saying daily ICS use was important and ICS were controller medications (P = .04).
Conclusions: MARS-A demonstrated good psychometric performance as a self-reported measure of adherence with ICS among English- and Spanish-speaking, low-income, minority patients with asthma.