Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 358–368 | Cite as

Improving Adherence to Medication in Stroke Survivors: A Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial

  • Ronan E. O’Carroll
  • Julie A. Chambers
  • Martin Dennis
  • Cathie Sudlow
  • Marie Johnston
Original Article



Adherence to preventive medication is often poor, and current interventions have had limited success.


This study was conducted to pilot a randomised controlled trial aimed at increasing adherence to preventive medication in stroke survivors using a brief, personalised intervention.


Sixty-two stroke survivors were randomly allocated to either a two-session intervention aimed at increasing adherence via (a) introducing a plan linked to environmental cues (implementation intentions) to help establish a better medication-taking routine (habit) and (b) eliciting and modifying any mistaken patient beliefs regarding medication/stroke or a control group. Primary outcome was adherence to antihypertensive medication measured objectively over 3 months using an electronic pill bottle.


Fifty-eight people used the pill bottle and were analysed as allocated; 54 completed treatment. The intervention resulted in 10 % more doses taken on schedule (intervention, 97 %; control, 87 %; 95 % CI for difference (0.2, 16.2); p = 0.048).


A simple, brief intervention increased medication adherence in stroke survivors, over and above any effect of increased patient contact or mere measurement. (, number ISRCTN38274953.)


Stroke Adherence Medication beliefs Implementation intentions Antihypertensives 



We would like to thank the doctors and nurses at the Western General Hospital stroke clinic and ward for their help in patient recruitment and the patients for giving us their time to take part.

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Sources of Funding

This project was funded by a grant from the Scottish Government, Department of Health, Chief Scientist Office; reference number CZH/4/569.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronan E. O’Carroll
    • 1
  • Julie A. Chambers
    • 1
  • Martin Dennis
    • 2
  • Cathie Sudlow
    • 2
  • Marie Johnston
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Psychology, School of Natural SciencesUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK
  2. 2.Division of Clinical NeurosciencesWestern General Hospital and University of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Aberdeen Health Psychology GroupUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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