Adherence and oncology!

“Oral treatments are transforming cancer care, moving the administration of treatment from the hospital to the patient’s home. This is shifting the responsibility for managing medications from healthcare professionals to patients, making adherence an important consideration”, says Atlantis Healthcare.

An average non-adherence rate of 21% has been reported to oral anticancer treatments. It’s clear that a high level of adherence to oral anticancer treatments is required for successful treatment. In addition to the impact on health and survival, non-adherence to oral anticancer treatment has been associated with increased healthcare costs, including more visits to the doctor, longer and more frequent hospital stays.

Dr. Lina Elliasson, a health psychology specialist who has conducted research with cancer patients’ states: “We found that the most common reason for missing doses was simply forgetting. It is important to make patients aware of adherence aids that might be available to them, such as alarms or monitor dosing boxes.” She also finds that: “Most hospitals do not offer patients any adherence support and are not set up with the necessary protocols to manage patients taking oral cancer medicine. I guess most places have a leaflet about the importance of adherence but that’s it.”

There are some promising interventions to support adherence thought:

  • Implementation of strategies to detect, report and manage side effects;
  • Practical strategies such as pill boxes, reminder aids and strategies for planning around changes to daily routine, such as socializing, visiting friends or going on holiday;
  • Involve patients in decisions about their treatment.

We think the practical strategies like pill boxes and reminders in combination with the social element can work. This strategy needs to be implemented as a part of the complete care system, not as an add-on.

Author: Indy Kavelaars @ Vitaphone Netherlands
Source: Atlantis healthcare, Adherence Research by Vanessa Cooper. More information download the white paper “From hospital to home: the changing therapeutic area of oncology

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