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J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2015 Jan;17(1):33-8. doi: 10.1111/jch.12441. Epub 2014 Nov 21.

Reinforcing adherence to antihypertensive medications.

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Calhoun Cardiology Center and Department of Medicine, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT.


This pilot study evaluated a reinforcement intervention to improve adherence to antihypertensive therapy. Twenty-nine participants were randomized to standard care or standard care plus financial reinforcement for 12 weeks. Participants in the reinforcement group received a cell phone to self-record videos of adherence, for which they earned rewards. These participants sent videos demonstrating on-time adherence 97.8% of the time. Pill count adherence differed significantly between the groups during treatment, with 98.8%±1.5% of pills taken during treatment in the reinforcement condition vs 92.6%±9.2% in standard care (P<.002). Benefits persisted throughout a 3-month follow-up, with 93.8%±9.3% vs 78.0%±18.5% of pills taken (P<.001). Pill counts correlated significantly (P<.001) with self-reports of adherence, which also differed between groups over time (P<.01). Systolic blood pressure decreased modestly over time in participants overall (P<.01) but without significant time-by-group effects. These results suggest that reinforcing medication adherence via cellular phone technology and financial reinforcement holds potential to improve adherence.

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