Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 278–284 | Cite as

Predictors of adherence to diabetes medications: the role of disease and medication beliefs

  • Devin M. MannEmail author
  • Diego Ponieman
  • Howard Leventhal
  • Ethan A. Halm


Despite the effectiveness of drug therapy in diabetes management high rates of poor adherence persist. The purpose of this study was to identify potentially modifiable patient disease and medication beliefs associated with poor medication adherence among people with diabetes. A cohort of patients with diabetes was recruited from an urban primary-care clinic in New York City. Patients were interviewed in English or Spanish about: disease beliefs, medication beliefs, regimen complexity, diabetes knowledge, depression, self-efficacy, and medication adherence (Morisky scale). Logistic regression was used to identify multivariate predictors of poor medication adherence (Morisky > 1). Patients (n = 151) had diabetes for an average of 13 years with a mean HgA1C of 7.6 (SD 1.7). One-in-four (28%) were poor adherers to their diabetes medicines. In multivariate analyses, predictors of poor medication adherence were: believing you have diabetes only when your sugar is high (OR = 7.4;2–27.2), saying there was no need to take medicine when the glucose was normal (OR = 3.5;0.9–13.7), worrying about side-effects of diabetes medicines (OR = 3.3;1.3–8.7), lack of self-confidence in controlling diabetes (OR = 2.8;1.1–7.1), and feeling medicines are hard to take (OR = 14.0;4.4–44.6). Disease and medication beliefs inconsistent with a chronic disease model of diabetes were significant predictors of poor medication adherence. These suboptimal beliefs are potentially modifiable and are logical targets for educational interventions to improve diabetes self-management.


Diabetes Medication adherence Health beliefs Self-regulation model 



The authors thank Jessica Lorenzo, MPH, Julian Baez, John Marcel and Manuel Vilchez for their work throughout this project. Data from this study were presented at the bi-annual International Congress of Behavioral Medicine (August 25, 2008; Tokyo, Japan). This study was funded by the National Institute on Aging (R24 AG023958) and the Center for the Study of Health Beliefs and Behaviors. Disclosure The authors have no relevant conflict of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Devin M. Mann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Diego Ponieman
    • 1
  • Howard Leventhal
    • 2
  • Ethan A. Halm
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of General Internal MedicineMount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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