Objective: To propose a unifying set of definitions for prescription adherence research utilizing electronic health record prescribing databases, prescription dispensing databases, and pharmacy claims databases and to provide a conceptual framework to operationalize these definitions consistently across studies.
Methods: We reviewed recent literature to identify definitions in electronic database studies of prescription-filling patterns for chronic oral medications. We then develop a conceptual model and propose standardized terminology and definitions to describe prescription-filling behavior from electronic databases.
Results: The conceptual model we propose defines 2 separate constructs: medication adherence and persistence. We define primary and secondary adherence as distinct subtypes of adherence. Metrics for estimating secondary adherence are discussed and critiqued, including a newer metric (New Prescription Medication Gap measure) that enables estimation of both primary and secondary adherence.
Discussion: Terminology currently used in prescription adherence research employing electronic databases lacks consistency. We propose a clear, consistent, broadly applicable conceptual model and terminology for such studies. The model and definitions facilitate research utilizing electronic medication prescribing, dispensing, and/or claims databases and encompasses the entire continuum of prescription-filling behavior.
Conclusion: Employing conceptually clear and consistent terminology to define medication adherence and persistence will facilitate future comparative effectiveness research and meta-analytic studies that utilize electronic prescription and dispensing records.