This study examined the relationship between adverse reactions and patient compliance with ethinylestradiol at 40 μg twice daily versus 20 μg four times daily. In a randomized study 61 female patients with primary- infertility were prescribed the drug twice daily (n = 31) or four times daily (n = 30). Ethinylestradiol was administered for 7 days before the sperm cervical mucus penetration-test was performed for hormonal standardization of the cervical mucus quality. Drug compliance was measured by continuous monitoring using the Medication Event Monitoring System. Two parameters were evaluated: percentage of prescribed doses taken (administration compliance) and adherence to the prescribed dose schedule (regimen compliance, number of days with two or four dosing events recorded). Adverse drug reactions were assessed using a standardized questionnaire. Fourty-four women experienced side effects, of which 81% were rated by patients as being mild. Patient compliance was higher with the twice daily than with the four times daily regimen: 85% versus 65% prescribed doses taken (P<0.05). There was no significant difference in compliance comparing patients with and without adverse reactions (82% versus 72%, respectively), but compliance was lower and more irregular with at least 3 versus one or two adverse reactions reported: 54% versus 84% in administration compliance and 31% versus 58% in regimen compliance (P<0.05). Compliance was also lower in patients with nausea and vomiting than in those without these symptoms, 59% versus 91% and 34% versus 66% (P<0.005), respectively, and lower with moderate or severe compared to mild side effects; 48% versus 85% and 25% versus 59% (P<0.005). Thus the mere occurrence of side effects was not associated with low compliance. However, the number and nature of symptoms and their intensity as perceived by patients may have considerably influenced drug use behavior.
Drug complianceAdverse reactionsElectronic compliance monitoring