Self-report for measuring and predicting medication adherence: experts’ experience in predicting adherence in stable psychiatric outpatients and in pharmacokinetics

Carlos De las Cuevas, Jose de Leon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Problem: Poor adherence to appropriately prescribed medication is a global challenge for psychiatrists. Prior Studies: Measuring adherence is complicated. In our recent three-country naturalistic study including more than 1000 patients and their adherence to multiple medication prescriptions at the same time, patients’ self-report of adherence to each specific drug was the only practical option for measuring adherence. Systematic literature reviews provide inconsistent results for sociodemographic, clinical and medication variables as predictors of adherence to psychiatric drugs. Our studies over the last 10 years in relatively stable psychiatric outpatients have shown that some self-reported health beliefs had consistent, strong effects and a better predictive role. Three dimensions of these health beliefs are characteristics of the individual: 1) attitudes toward psychiatric medication such as pharma-cophobia (fear of taking drugs or medicines), 2) health locus of control (the belief patients have about who or what agent determines the state of their health), 3) psychological reactance (an emotional reaction in direct contradiction to rules or regulations that threaten or suppress certain freedoms in behavior). They can be measured by the Patient Health Beliefs Questionnaire on Psychiatric Treatment. The attitude toward each specific medication can be measured by the necessity-concern framework and summarized as the presence or absence of skepticism about that drug. After 25 years conducting pharmacokinetic studies in psychiatric drugs, particularly antipsychotics, we have limited understanding of how to use blood levels to predict the effects of non-adherence or to establish it. Expert Opinion on Future Studies: Future studies to predict adherence should include the inpatient setting and explore insight. Studying the pharmacokinetics associated with non-adherence in each psychiatric drug is a major challenge. Medication adherence is a complex and dynamic process changing over time in the same patient. Personalizing adherence using psychological or pharmacological variables are in their initial stages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1823-1842
Number of pages20
JournalPatient Preference and Adherence
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 De las Cuevas and de Leon.


  • Attitude to health
  • Drug monitoring
  • Health behavior
  • Medication adherence
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychopharmacology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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