A matter of trust: patient barriers to primary medication adherence

Health Educ Res. 2014 Oct;29(5):755-63. doi: 10.1093/her/cyu023. Epub 2014 May 16.


Primary medication adherence occurs when a patient properly fills the first prescription for a new medication. Primary adherence only occurs about three-quarters of the time for antihypertensive medications. We assessed patients' barriers to primary adherence and attributes of patient-provider discussions that might improve primary adherence for antihypertensives. In total, 26 patients with incomplete primary adherence for an antihypertensive, identified using their retail pharmacy claims, participated in four focus groups. Following a moderators' guide developed a priori, moderators led patients in a discussion of patients' attitudes and experiences with hypertension and receiving an antihypertensive medication, barriers to primary adherence, and their preferences for shared decision making and communication with providers. Three authors analysed and organized data into salient themes, including patients' anger about and suspicion of their hypertension diagnosis, the need for medication and providers' credibility. A trusting patient-provider relationship, shared decision-making support, full disclosure of side effects and cost sensitivity were attributes that might enhance primary adherence. Developing decision support interventions that strengthen the patient-provider relationship by enhancing provider credibility and patient trust prior to prescribing may provide more effective approaches for improving primary adherence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Medication Adherence / psychology*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Trust / psychology*


  • Antihypertensive Agents