Primary nonadherence to statin therapy: patients' perceptions

Am J Manag Care. 2013 Apr 1;19(4):e133-9.


Objectives: To identify self-reported reasons for not filling a new prescription for statin therapy.

Study design: A cross-sectional telephone survey.

Methods: Potential participants were identified from a randomized, controlled trial among Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) members aged >24 years with no record of redeeming a new statin medication, defined as primary nonadherence. Among 1158 eligible patients, 98 were randomly selected and participated in a semi-structured telephone interview that included questions on whether the respondent redeemed their statin prescription, why the patient may have chosen not to use a KPSC pharmacy, reasons for not filling the prescription, use of non-prescription products for elevated cholesterol levels, and questions to assess health literacy.

Results: At 12 weeks post-index prescription date, 75% of 98 respondents reported not filling their new statin prescription, 20% reported picking it up from a non-KPSC pharmacy, 4% had already picked up the prescription at a KPSC pharmacy, and 1% did not know if it had been filled. The 3 most commonly cited reasons for primary nonadherence were general concerns about taking the medication (63%), a decision to try lifestyle modifications (63%), and fear of side effects (53%). A substantial proportion (33%) of respondents reported inadequate health literacy.

Conclusions: These data suggest the need for interventions that address patients' negative perceptions of statins while emphasizing the benefits of statin therapy for reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in formats accessible to those with limited health literacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • California
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors