Why don’t patients take their analgesics? A meta-ethnography assessing the perceptions of medication adherence in patients with osteoarthritis

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15 Citations (Scopus)
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Introduction/objectives: Whilst analgesics and medications have demonstrated efficacy for people with osteoarthritis, their effectiveness is dependent on adherence. This has previously been reported as particularly low in this population. The purpose of this meta-ethnography was to explore possible perceptions for this.

Method: A systematic review of published and unpublished literature was undertaken. All qualitative studies assessing the attitudes or perceptions of people with osteoarthritis towards medication adherence were eligible. Study quality was assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme Qualitative tool. Analysis was undertaken using a meta-ethnography approach, distilling to a third order construct and developing a line of argument.

Results: From 881 citations, five studies met the eligibility criteria. The meta-ethnography generated a model where medication adherence for people with osteoarthritis is perceived as a balance between the willingness or preference to take medications with the alterative being toleration of symptoms. Motivators to influence this ‘balance’ may fluctuate and change over time but include: severity of symptoms, education and understanding of osteoarthritis and current medications, or general health which may raise issues for poly-pharmacy as other medications are added or substituted into the patient’s formulary.

Conclusions: Medicine adherence in people with osteoarthritis is complex, involving motivators which will fluctuate in impact on individuals at different points along the disease progression. Awareness of each motivator may better inform clinicians as to what education, support or change in prescription practice should be adopted to ensure that medicine adherence is individualised to better promote long-term behaviour change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-739
Number of pages9
JournalRheumatology International
Issue number5
Early online date10 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • drug
  • compliance
  • systematic review
  • musculoskeletal
  • elderly

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