Send to

Choose Destination
Clin Ther. 2013 Feb;35(2):153-60. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2013.01.001. Epub 2013 Jan 26.

Medication beliefs and self-reported adherence among community-dwelling older adults.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, White Plains, NY 10605, USA.



Nonadherence to medications among older adults can compromise quality care. Among older adults with chronic diseases, nonadherence rates can reach 50%. Individual-level obstacles to full adherence may come from psychological, illness (and disability due to aging or other impairments), and tangible barriers. In this study, we examine the barriers associated with nonadherence among community-dwelling older persons participating in Aging Service Network nutrition programs.


The goal of this study was to examine the relation of psychological, illness, and tangible barriers to reported medication adherence among older adults in a community, nonmedical setting.


Older adults (N = 299) receiving congregate meals participated in a study of factors associated with medication-taking behaviors and adherence. Self-reported medication nonadherence was measured by using the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale. Psychological barriers were assessed by using a risk/benefit score (perceived concerns vs necessity of medications). Illness barriers reviewed included overall cognitive functioning, disability, medical burden, and depression. Tangible barriers included number of medications, difficulty handling medication, and perceived cost.


Most participants took multiple medications (mean, 4.8) each day, and 4 of 10 older adults (41% [122 of 299]) reported at least 1 nonadherent behavior. The psychological barrier of a low risk/benefit score (odds ratio = 0.73 [95% CI, 0.6-0.94]) and the tangible barrier of difficulty opening the medication bottle (odds ratio = 2.16 [95% CI, 1.3-3.6]) were independently associated with nonadherence.


In a community-dwelling sample of older adults, nonadherence to medication was associated with both tangible and psychological barriers. Beliefs about medication can be powerful barriers to a successful adherence strategy. Adherence interventions should address the multilevel barriers (psychological, illness, and tangible) to adherence among older adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center