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Patient Prefer Adherence. 2017 Jul 10;11:1151-1157. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S133168. eCollection 2017.

Pattern of statin use changes following media coverage of its side effects.

Author information

Department of Public Health.
Department of Media, Cognition, and Communication.
Department of Pharmacy, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.



The media plays a role in shaping opinions about medical decisions, for example, whether to initiate or stop treatment. An association between negative media attention and statin discontinuation has been demonstrated, but it may differ depending on the reason for prescription and whether the user is new (incident) or long term (prevalent).


The aim of this study is to explore whether a Danish newspaper article featuring the side effects of statins affects statin discontinuation in incident versus prevalent users, with the reason for prescription also taken into account.


The study relies on a quasi-experimental design and uses registry data on statin purchases to explore discontinuation and treatment duration. As a proxy for reason for prescription, data on filled prescriptions and hospital diagnoses from a Danish registry were used. We compared statin discontinuation in all statin users in Denmark in 2007 before the media event (n=343,438) and after it in 2008 (n=404,052).


Compared to 2007, statin discontinuation among prevalent users in 2008 increased by 2.97 percentage points (pp). The change in discontinuation varied with the indication for statin use. Those with myocardial infarction had the smallest increase (1.98 pp) and those with hypercholesterolemia or primary hypertension had the largest increase (3.54 pp). Incident statin users had a higher level of discontinuation and a larger difference in discontinuation between 2007 and 2008. Compared to 2007, more people (5.52 pp) discontinued statin treatment in 2008. Again, those with myocardial infarction had the smallest decrease in statin discontinuation (1.49 pp), while those with a potential atherosclerotic condition (7.05 pp) and hypercholesterolemia or primary hypertension (6.10 pp) had the largest increase.


Statin discontinuation increased in 2008 following a media event, but especially among individuals prescribed statins for primary prevention and among new statin users.


media attention; primary prevention; quasi-experimental study; secondary prevention; statin discontinuation

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

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