The influence of informal caregivers on adherence in COPD patients

Ann Behav Med. 2012 Aug;44(1):66-72. doi: 10.1007/s12160-012-9355-8.


Background: Contributions of informal caregivers to adherence among chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients remain understudied.

Purpose: This study aims to evaluate the association between caregiver presence and adherence to medical recommendations among COPD patients.

Methods: Three hundred and seventy-four COPD patients were asked whether they had a caregiver. Medication adherence was assessed using pharmacy refill data. Smoking status was based on patient self-report. One-way ANOVAs and chi-square analyses were performed controlling for age and number of illnesses.

Results: Compared with the "no caregiver" group, antihypertensive medications adherence was higher in the "spousal caregiver" (0.68 vs. 0.81; 95% CI=0.04 and 0.22) and "non-spousal caregiver" (0.68 vs. 0.80; 95% CI=0.03 and 0.22) groups; long-acting beta agonist adherence was higher in the "spousal caregiver" group (0.60 vs.0.80; 95% CI=0.05 and 0.43). Patients in the "spousal caregiver" group had fewer current smokers compared with the "no caregiver" (χ(2)=16.08; p<0.001) and "non-spousal caregiver" (χ(2)=5.07; p<0.05) groups; those in the "non-spousal caregiver" group reported fewer smokers than the "no caregiver" group (χ(2)=4.54; p<0.05).

Conclusions: Caregivers, especially spouses, may improve adherence in COPD. Future interventions may target patients without caregivers to optimize COPD management.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Self Care
  • Self Report
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antihypertensive Agents