Adherence to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a narrative review of the literature

Orthop Nurs. 2010 Jul-Aug;29(4):260-75. doi: 10.1097/NOR.0b013e3181e5c2c9.


Aim: This paper synthesizes findings from available research about medication adherence to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in the population with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Results: This review of literature included 35 articles. Medication adherence to DMARDs ranged from 30% to 107%. Adherence rates of more than 100% indicated that patients took more than the prescribed amount of medication. There were no consistent risk factors for nonadherence to DMARD prescriptions identified, but some evidence was provided for self-efficacy, patient-healthcare provider relationships, social support, patient beliefs about medications, and age as factors affecting medication adherence. Support for educational interventions focused on medication adherence was equivocal.

Conclusion: Further research is necessary to develop a comprehensive, theoretically based understanding of medication adherence in RA patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha