Conscientiousness and medication adherence: a meta-analysis

Ann Behav Med. 2014 Feb;47(1):92-101. doi: 10.1007/s12160-013-9524-4.


Background: Approximately a quarter to a half of all people fail to take their medication regimen as prescribed (i.e. non-adherence). Conscientiousness, from the five-factor model of personality, has been positively linked to adherence to medications in several recent studies.

Purpose: This study aimed to systematically estimate the strength and variability of this association across multiple published articles and to identify moderators of this relationship.

Method: A literature search identified 16 studies (N = 3,476) that met the study eligibility criteria. Estimates of effect sizes (r) obtained in these studies were meta-analysed.

Results: Overall, a higher level of conscientiousness was associated with better medication adherence (r = 0.15; 95 % CI, 0.09, 0.21). Associations were significantly stronger in younger samples (r = 0.26, 95 % CI, 0.17, 0.34; k = 7).

Conclusion: The small association between conscientiousness and medication adherence may have clinical significance in contexts where small differences in adherence result in clinically important effects.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence / psychology*
  • Personality*