Background and aim: Adherence to treatment is a critical component of epilepsy management. This study examines whether addressing antiepileptic drug (AED) side effects at every visit is associated with increased patient-reported medication adherence.
Patients and methods: This study identified 243 adults with epilepsy who were seen at two academic outpatient neurology settings and had at least two visits over a 3-year period. Demographic and clinical characteristics were abstracted. Evidence that AED side effects were addressed was measured through 1) phone interview (patient-reported) and 2) medical records abstraction (physician-documented). Medication adherence was assessed using the validated Morisky Medication Adherence Scale-4. Complete adherence was determined as answering "no" to all questions.
Results: Sixty-two (25%) patients completed the interviews. Participants and nonparticipants were comparable with respect to demographic and clinical characteristics; however, a smaller proportion of participants had a history of drug-resistant epilepsy than nonparticipants (17.7% vs 30.9%, P=0.04). Among the participants, evidence that AED side effects were addressed was present in 48 (77%) medical records and reported by 51 (82%) patients. Twenty-eight (45%) patients reported complete medication adherence. The most common reason for incomplete adherence was missed medication due to forgetfulness (n=31, 91%). There was no association between addressing AED side effects (neither physician-documented nor patient-reported) and complete medication adherence (P=0.22 and 0.20).
Discussion and conclusion: Among patients with epilepsy, addressing medication side effects at every visit does not appear to increase patient-reported medication adherence.
Keywords: antiepileptic drug side effects; epilepsy; medication adherence.