Meta-analyses of Theory Use in Medication Adherence Intervention Research

Am J Health Behav. 2016 Mar;40(2):155-71. doi: 10.5993/AJHB.40.2.1.


Objective: This systematic review applied meta-analytic procedures to integrate primary research that examined theory- or model-linked medication adherence interventions.

Methods: Extensive literature searching strategies were used to locate trials testing interventions with medication adherence behavior outcomes measured by electronic event monitoring, pharmacy refills, pill counts, and self-reports. Random-effects model analysis was used to calculate standardized mean difference effect sizes for medication adherence outcomes.

Results: Codable data were extracted from 146 comparisons with 19,348 participants. The most common theories and models were social cognitive theory and motivational interviewing. The overall weighted effect size for all interventions comparing treatment and control participants was 0.294. The effect size for interventions based on single-theories was 0.323 and for multiple-theory interventions was 0.214. Effect sizes for individual theories and models ranged from 0.041 to 0.447. The largest effect sizes were for interventions based on the health belief model (0.477) and adult learning theory (0.443). The smallest effect sizes were for interventions based on PRECEDE (0.041) and self-regulation (0.118).

Conclusion: These findings suggest that theory- and model-linked interventions have a significant but modest effect on medication adherence outcomes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence / psychology*
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Models, Psychological*