Medication compliance after renal transplantation

Transplantation. 1995 Nov 15;60(9):914-20.


Noncompliance is known to be an important cause of late graft failure after renal transplantation. We investigated prospectively the degree of compliance with immunosuppressive and antihypertensive drugs during the first year after renal transplantation by monthly pill counts. In addition, we examined whether noncompliance was related to a number of demographic and clinical variables or to the occurrence of rejections. The study population consisted of 127 patients who were involved in a randomized trial comparing cyclosporine monotherapy with azathioprine-prednisone treatment. Average compliance rates approximated 100%, although considerable variability within and between subjects was observed. Using an arbitrary limit to classify patients as compliers or noncompliers, the following frequencies of noncompliance were observed during the study year: cyclosporine, 23%; azathioprine, 13%; prednisone, 23%; atenolol, 36%; and nifedipine, 32%. Average compliance scores for all immunosuppressive drugs were superior to those of antihypertensive medication (P < 0.001). Except for a better compliance for prednisone in men as compared with women, we found no consistent relationship between compliance on the one hand and several demographic variables, graft function, or quality of life on the other hand. Patients who developed one or more acute rejection episodes showed a higher degree of undercompliance, especially for prednisone, than patients without rejections (P < 0.01). Following the occurrence of a rejection episode, compliance scores improved significantly. Keeping in mind the limitations of the pill count method, we conclude that noncompliance with immunosuppressive drugs is not a huge problem during the first year after renal transplantation. However, it is likely that noncompliance contributes to a certain number of acute rejection episodes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Atenolol / therapeutic use
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Graft Rejection / drug therapy
  • Graft Rejection / psychology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney Transplantation / immunology
  • Kidney Transplantation / psychology*
  • Kidney Transplantation / rehabilitation
  • Male
  • Nifedipine / therapeutic use
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Refusal


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Atenolol
  • Cyclosporine
  • Nifedipine
  • Azathioprine
  • Prednisone