Medication regimen complexity and its impact on medication adherence in patients with multimorbidity at a comprehensive specialized hospital in Ethiopia

Front Med (Lausanne). 2024 May 27:11:1369569. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2024.1369569. eCollection 2024.


Background: Medication regimen complexity (MRC) is suspected to hinder medication adherence in patients with multiple illnesses. Despite this, the specific impact on Ethiopian patients with multimorbidity is unclear. This study assessed MRC and its impact on medication adherence in patients with multimorbidity.

Methods: A hospital-based cross-sectional study was conducted on patients with multimorbidity who had been followed at the University of Gondar Comprehensive and Specialized Hospital (UoGCSH), Ethiopia, from May to July 2021. Medication complexity was measured using the validated Medication Regimen Complexity Index (MRCI) tool, and the Adherence in Chronic Diseases Scale (ACDS) was used to measure medication adherence. Pearson's chi-square test was used to examine associations between MRCI levels and medication adherence. Ordinal logistic regression analysis was used to determine the impact of MRC and other associated variables on medication adherence. Statistical significance was determined using the adjusted odds ratio (AOR) at p-value <0.05 and its 95% confidence range.

Results: Out of 422 eligible patients, 416 (98.6%) were included in the study. The majority of participants (57.2%) were classified as having a high MRCI score with a mean (±SD) score of 9.7 (±3.4). Nearly half of the patients (49.3%) had low medication adherence. Patients with medium (AOR = 0.43, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.72) and higher (AOR = 0.31, 95% CI: 0.07, 0.79) MRCI levels had lower odds of medication adherence. In addition, monthly income (AOR = 4.59, 95% CI: 2.14, 9.83), follow-up durations (AOR = 2.31, 95% CI: 1.09, 4.86), number of medications (AOR = 0.63, 95% CI: 0.41, 0.97), and Charlson comorbidity index (CCI) (AOR = 0.36, 95% CI: 0.16, 0.83) were significantly associated with medication adherence.

Conclusion: Medication regimen complexity in patients with multimorbidity was found to be high and negatively impacted the levels of medication adherence. Healthcare providers and other stakeholders should seek interventions aimed at simplifying drug regimen complexity and improving adherence.

Keywords: Ethiopia; chronic diseases; medication adherence; medication regimen complexity; multimorbidity.

Grants and funding

The author(s) declare that financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. The University of Gondar provided financial support only for the research as a fulfillment of a master’s degree in clinical pharmacy to a principal author (AK). The funder did not have a role in the data collection or analysis of the data, or publication of the findings.