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Perm J. 2010 Spring;14(1):4-10.

Patients' perspectives on nonadherence to statin therapy: a focus-group study.

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Division of Research, Oakland, CA, USA.



Nonadherence to statin therapy is associated with poor cardiovascular outcomes.


We explored factors and perceptions that contribute to statin therapy nonadherence.


We conducted a qualitative study that was based on three patient focus groups using a structured discussion guide to explore factors related to statin therapy nonadherence, information sources, perceptions of statins and cardiovascular risks factors, and suggestions for improving adherence.


We enrolled 18 adult patients of an integrated delivery system who had been newly prescribed a statin between November 2006 and August 2007, with a subsequent one- to six-month gap in drug supply as documented by automated pharmacy data.


We performed content analysis of verbatim focus-group transcripts to assess themes within each domain.


Study participants identified many factors that contributed to their statin therapy nonadherence, including concerns or experiences with adverse effects, uncertainty about the benefits or importance of statins for their overall health, and lack of convenience. Concerns about the adverse effects of statins were a dominant theme. Although most participants believed that having a high cholesterol level is unsafe, many were unsure about their personal need for statins if they were making other lifestyle changes or had only borderline high cholesterol levels. Participants suggested that systematic follow-up, as well as greater information about the risks and benefits of statins and the merits of alternative approaches for lowering cholesterol, could have improved their adherence to therapy.


Many patients reduced statin use because of concerns about adverse effects and desire for more information about statins. Effective interventions that address patients' underlying concerns and perceptions are needed to improve statin therapy adherence.

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