Awareness about barriers to medication adherence in cardiovascular patients and strategies used in clinical practice by Portuguese clinicians: a nationwide study

João Aguiar, Manuel Ribeiro, Ana Rita Pedro, Ana Paula Martins, Filipa Alves da Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although much is known about cardiovascular patients’ medication adherence, the extent to which clinicians perceive non-adherence as a barrier in clinical practice is little explored. Objective To evaluate knowledge and awareness about potential barriers to medication adherence, and to evaluate strategies used in clinical practice by Portuguese clinicians on how to foster medication adherence of patients undergoing secondary cardiovascular prevention. Setting Nominal Group Technique (NGT) at the University of Lisbon; online survey addressed to physicians working in primary and secondary care in Portugal. Method A narrative literature review was conducted in Pubmed to identify studies describing interventions targeted at physicians to manage medication adherence. The NGT included 12 allied healthcare professionals with recognized expertise in medication adherence and was organised in four phases, resulting in survey development. The survey was used in a cross-sectional national study where clinicians reported their knowledge and perceptions about patients’ medication adherence and their daily practice. Main outcome measures Knowledge and awareness about barriers to medication adherence; and practice patterns. Results A total of 296 papers were identified, 26 of which were included. Four main topics were selected to be used in the NGT: adherence determinants, detecting non-adherence, fostering adherence, and educating physicians. NGT resulted in a survey, reaching 451 physicians, mostly practicing in primary care. Most had specific education on medication adherence and considered patient interviews and prescription records the most useful assessment methods. Nonetheless, many recognised often using clinical judgement to evaluate adherence in practice. Barriers to medication adherence were perceived to occur often during implementation. Most perceived reasons for uncontrolled hypertension were non-adherence to lifestyle recommendations and to medication. Less than half the physicians asked their patients if medication was taken. More useful enabling strategies included reducing daily doses, reviewing therapeutic options and motivational interventions. Conclusions Clinicians seem well informed about the importance of medication adherence and aware of problems encountered in practice. Limited time during medical appointment may be a barrier for better patient support.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Cardiovascular secondary prevention
  • Medical education
  • Medical practice
  • Medication adherence
  • Portugal


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