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Factors responsible for noncompliance to drug therapy in the elderly and the impact of patient education on improving compliance

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Noncompliance to drug therapy, a common problem in geriatric patients, adversely affects disease outcomes. In India, data addressing noncompliance in elderly patients, the factors responsible for it and possible solutions for the problem are very limited.


To evaluate the prevalence of drug noncompliance among Indian geriatric patients, explore factors affecting it and examine the impact of educating patients about importance of adhering to drug therapy.

Study design

A total of 200 geriatric patients from various outpatient departments were randomly recruited. Baseline information related to diseases and drug therapy were recorded using a structured case-record form that included a questionnaire for evaluation of drug compliance. Patients were randomly divided in two groups of 100 individuals; the interventional group received education about the importance of drug compliance and related issues, and the control group did not. Changes in compliance were evaluated at a follow-up visit 7–14 days later.


Noncompliance to drug therapy was reported in 77.5 % of patients, and was significantly associated with socioeconomic status, prescription-related factors (number of medicines prescribed, purchasing drugs from same pharmacy, patients’ particularity in taking medicines on time, instructions given by doctors); and drug-related factors (frequency and duration of administration, skewed instructions for use, physical difficulties in taking drugs, price of drug as perceived by patient, cost of therapy, risk of adverse drug reactions as perceived by patient). At follow-up, compliance had significantly improved in the group who had received education relative to the group who did not.


Educating geriatric patients about their disease and drug therapy, and the importance of compliance to therapy may improve their short-term compliance behaviour.

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The authors would like to thank Dr. Gaurav Modi for his help in statistical analysis of the data.


No sources of funding were used to conduct this study or prepare the manuscript. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of the study.

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Correspondence to Rima B. Shah.

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Shah, R.B., Desai, S.V., Gajjar, B.M. et al. Factors responsible for noncompliance to drug therapy in the elderly and the impact of patient education on improving compliance. Drugs Ther Perspect 29, 360–366 (2013).

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