Original Article

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 92-101

First online:

Conscientiousness and Medication Adherence: A Meta-analysis

  • G. J. MolloyAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, National University of Ireland Galway Email author 
  • , R. E. O’CarrollAffiliated withPsychology, School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling
  • , E. FergusonAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, University of Nottingham

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access



Approximately a quarter to a half of all people fail to take their medication regimen as prescribed (i.e. non-adherence). Conscientiousness, from the five-factor model of personality, has been positively linked to adherence to medications in several recent studies.


This study aimed to systematically estimate the strength and variability of this association across multiple published articles and to identify moderators of this relationship.


A literature search identified 16 studies (N = 3,476) that met the study eligibility criteria. Estimates of effect sizes (r) obtained in these studies were meta-analysed.


Overall, a higher level of conscientiousness was associated with better medication adherence (r = 0.15; 95 % CI, 0.09, 0.21). Associations were significantly stronger in younger samples (r = 0.26, 95 % CI, 0.17, 0.34; k = 7).


The small association between conscientiousness and medication adherence may have clinical significance in contexts where small differences in adherence result in clinically important effects.


Adherence Compliance Personality Conscientiousness Medication