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Open Access Research article

Developing consensus-based policy solutions for medicines adherence for Europe: a delphi study

Wendy Clyne*, Simon White and Sarah McLachlan

Author affiliations

School of Pharmacy, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:425  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-425

Published: 23 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Non-adherence to prescribed medication is a pervasive problem that can incur serious effects on patients’ health outcomes and well-being, and the availability of resources in healthcare systems. This study aimed to develop practical consensus-based policy solutions to address medicines non-adherence for Europe.

Methods

A four-round Delphi study was conducted. The Delphi Expert Panel comprised 50 participants from 14 countries and was representative of: patient/carers organisations; healthcare providers and professionals; commissioners and policy makers; academics; and industry representatives. Participants engaged in the study remotely, anonymously and electronically. Participants were invited to respond to open questions about the causes, consequences and solutions to medicines non-adherence. Subsequent rounds refined responses, and sought ratings of the relative importance, and operational and political feasibility of each potential solution to medicines non-adherence. Feedback of individual and group responses was provided to participants after each round. Members of the Delphi Expert Panel and members of the research group participated in a consensus meeting upon completion of the Delphi study to discuss and further refine the proposed policy solutions.

Results

43 separate policy solutions to medication non-adherence were agreed by the Panel. 25 policy solutions were prioritised based on composite scores for importance, and operational and political feasibility. Prioritised policy solutions focused on interventions for patients, training for healthcare professionals, and actions to support partnership between patients and healthcare professionals. Few solutions concerned actions by governments, healthcare commissioners, or interventions at the system level.

Conclusions

Consensus about practical actions necessary to address non-adherence to medicines has been developed for Europe. These actions are also applicable to other regions. Prioritised policy solutions for medicines non-adherence offer a benefit to policymakers and healthcare providers seeking to address this multifaceted, complex problem.

Keywords:
Policy; Consensus; Delphi technique; Medication adherence