Neuroticism and Conscientiousness Moderate the Effect of Oral Medication Beliefs on Adherence of People with Mental Illness during the Pandemic

Brain Sci. 2022 Sep 29;12(10):1315. doi: 10.3390/brainsci12101315.


Background: After the declaration of the pandemic status in several countries, the continuity of face-to-face visits in psychiatric facilities has been delayed or even interrupted to reduce viral spread. Little is known about the personality factors associated with medication beliefs and adherence amongst individuals with mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. This brief report describes a preliminary naturalistic longitudinal study that explored whether the Big Five personality traits prospectively moderate the effects of medication beliefs on changes in adherence during the pandemic for a group of outpatients with psychosis or bipolar disorder.

Methods: Thirteen outpatients undergoing routine face-to-face follow-up assessments during the pandemic were included (41 observations overall) and completed the Revised Italian Version of the Ten-Item Personality Inventory, the Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire, the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale-8-item and the Beck Depression Inventory-II.

Results: Participants had stronger concerns about their psychiatric medications rather than beliefs about their necessity, and adherence to medications was generally low. Participants who had more necessity beliefs than concerns had better adherence to medications. People scoring higher in Conscientiousness and Neuroticism traits and more concerned about the medication side effects had poorer adherence.

Conclusions: These preliminary data suggest the importance of a careful assessment of the adherence to medications amongst people with psychosis/bipolar disorder during the pandemic. Interventions aimed to improve adherence might focus on patients' medication beliefs and their Conscientiousness and Neuroticism personality traits.

Keywords: Big Five personality; COVID-19 pandemic; adherence; beliefs about medications; mental disorders; stress.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.