Effect of pharmaceutical care on medication adherence and hospital admission in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): a randomized controlled study

J Thorac Dis. 2014 Jun;6(6):656-62. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2014.06.20.


Background: Poor adherence leads to a high rate of exacerbation and poor health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, few strategies are acceptable and effective in improving medication adherence. We investigated whether pharmaceutical care by clinical pharmacists could reinforce medication adherence to reduce exacerbation and improve HRQoL.

Methods: A randomized controlled study was carried out at The First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University from February 2012 to January 2014. Non-adherence patients were randomly assigned to receive pharmaceutical care or to usual care. The pharmaceutical care consisted of individualized education and a series of telephone counseling for 6 months provided by clinical pharmacists. Medication adherence was measured by pill counts plus direct interview at 1- and 6-month pharmaceutical care and one-year follow-up. Severe exacerbations were defined as events that led to hospitalization for acute COPD attack. An interview was conducted to investigate hospital admissions and evaluate severe exacerbations at one-year follow-up. HRQoL was measured by St George's Respiratory Questionnaire at 6 months.

Results: At 6-month pharmaceutical care and one-year follow-up, the pharmaceutical care group exhibited higher medication adherence than the usual care group (73.4±11.1 vs. 55.7±11.9, P=0.016 and 54.4±12.5 vs. 66.5±8.6, P=0.039, respectively). There are 60 acute exacerbations resulted in a hospital admission in the usual group while 37 ones in the pharmaceutical care group during one-year follow-up (P=0.01). Hospital admissions due to acute exacerbation in the pharmaceutical care group were 56.3% less than the usual care group (P=0.01). There was a significant difference in the symptoms and impact subscales respectively at 6-month pharmaceutical care between two groups (P=0.032, P=0.018).

Conclusions: Individualized pharmaceutical care improved medication adherence, reduced hospitalization and elevated HRQoL in patients with COPD.

Keywords: Pharmaceutical care; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); hospitalization; medication adherence.