Importance: Ability to afford medication is a major determinate of medication adherence among patients.
Objective: To determine cost-related barriers to medication adherence by race and ethnicity in a nationwide cohort of patients with glaucoma.
Design, setting, and participants: This cross-sectional study included patients with glaucoma enrolled in the National Institutes of Health All of Us Research Program, a nationwide longitudinal cohort of US adults, with more than 300 000 currently enrolled. Individuals with a diagnosis of glaucoma based on electronic health record diagnosis codes who participated in the Health Care Access and Utilization survey and had complete data on all covariates were studied. Data were collected from June 2016 to March 2021, and data were analyzed from August to November 2021.
Exposures: Race and ethnicity defined as non-Hispanic African American, non-Hispanic Asian, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic White.
Main outcomes and measures: Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between reported cost-related barriers to medication adherence (could not afford prescription medication, skipped medication doses to save money, took less medication to save money, delayed filling a prescription to save money, asked for lower-cost medication to save money, bought prescriptions from another country to save money, and used alternative therapies to save money) and race and ethnicity, adjusting multivariable models by age, gender, health insurance status, education, and income. Odds ratios of these barriers were obtained by race and ethnicity, with non-Hispanic White race as the reference group.
Results: Of 3826 included patients with glaucoma, 481 (12.6%) were African American, 119 (3.1%) were non-Hispanic Asian, 351 (9.2%) were Hispanic, and 2875 (75.1%) were non-Hispanic White. The median (IQR) age was 69 (60-75) years, and 2307 (60.3%) were female. After adjusting for confounders, non-Hispanic African American individuals (odds ratio, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.34-2.44) and Hispanic individuals (odds ratio, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.25-2.49) were more likely than non-Hispanic White individuals to report not being able to afford medications. Further, despite having the lowest rate of endorsing difficulty affording medications, non-Hispanic White individuals were equally likely to ask for lower-cost medication from their clinicians as individuals of racial and ethnic minority groups.
Conclusions and relevance: In this study, there was significantly higher odds of self-reported difficulty affording medications among non-Hispanic African American and Hispanic individuals compared with non-Hispanic White individuals. Clinicians should be proactive and initiate discussions about costs in an effort to promote medication adherence and health equity among patients.