Compliance and noncompliance in patients with a functioning renal transplant: a multicenter study

Transplantation. 1998 Dec 27;66(12):1718-26. doi: 10.1097/00007890-199812270-00026.


Background: Noncompliance with medication is a major cause of renal allograft failure among adult renal transplant patients. We summarize previous studies of noncompliance and report results of a large, multicenter survey designed to identify variables that (1) affect the likelihood of compliance with immunosuppressive medication regimens and (2) distinguish among noncompliant patients.

Methods: Questionnaires were distributed to 2500 patients at 56 U.S. transplant centers. Compliance was determined by patient responses to questions concerning whether, within the previous 4 weeks, one or more doses of immunosuppressive medications had been missed. Independent variables included patient and transplant characteristics, memories of dialysis, posttransplant symptoms and beliefs, and beliefs concerning the efficacy and importance of immunosuppressants.

Results: The incidence of noncompliance reported by the 1402 respondents was 22.4%. A logistic regression model that included age, occupation, time since transplant, and three medication-related beliefs was most predictive of the likelihood of compliance. Donor type and histories of diabetes and of infection entered the multivariate model when belief-related variables were excluded. Cluster analyses identified three distinct profiles of noncompliers: accidental noncompliers, invulnerables, and decisive noncompliers.

Conclusions: Results of this study, which included nearly three times more patients than the largest previously reported study, can be used by clinicians to identify patients likely to become noncompliant, by researchers to develop randomized, prospective clinical trials of interventions designed to increase compliance, and by educators to tailor patient education programs.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Sex Factors


  • Immunosuppressive Agents