Patient and clinician perspectives on optimizing graphical displays of longitudinal medication adherence data

Patient Educ Couns. 2019 Jun;102(6):1090-1097. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2018.12.029. Epub 2019 Jan 2.


Objective: New pharmacological measures assessing medication adherence, including longitudinal drug levels in hair, are emerging. Little is known, however, about how best to present results from such measures to patients and clinicians in comprehensive, easy-to-understand, acceptable formats. We, therefore, developed three graphical display prototypes of hypothetical daily drug concentrations measured in hair, and assessed their acceptability among participants.

Methods: We interviewed 30 HIV-positive patients and 29 clinicians to examine perceived acceptability for each graphical display prototype.

Results: Patients and clinicians generally found the prototypes acceptable for facilitating understanding of patient adherence; however, areas for optimization were identified. For patients with lower health literacy, prototypes did not provide sufficient understanding of the link between medication-taking and drug concentrations in hair. These patients also preferred pictographs over bar or line graphs. Clinicians largely preferred daily drug concentration data in bar graphs with information included about the measure's accuracy. Participants questioned the utility of showing drug concentrations above a therapeutic range, though they found color-coding results acceptable.

Conclusions: Assessing prototype versions of graphical displays of hypothetical longitudinal adherence data indicated ways to optimize their acceptability.

Practice implications: Acceptable prototype-tested graphical displays of longitudinal patient-specific drug concentrations may enhance adherence monitoring in clinical settings.

Keywords: Data visualization; Health communication; Medication adherence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Audiovisual Aids*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Display*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Health Literacy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Education as Topic*


  • Anti-HIV Agents