New Strategies Identified for Improving Treatment Adherence Among Diabetes Population in Changing Healthcare System

Focus Shifts From "Reminder" Prompts to Long-Term Behavior Change

Nov 07, 2013, 06:16 ET from Atlantis Healthcare

SUMMIT, N.J., Nov. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the nation focuses on Diabetes Awareness this month, both healthcare payers and providers continue to explore how new approaches to the prevention and treatment of the disease can be integrated within a rapidly changing health system.  Treatment adherence stands out as an increasingly important pillar within diabetes care.

"Simply put, health outcomes improve across the healthcare spectrum when patients follow their prescribed treatment," said Scott Guerin, Ph.D., Health Psychology Specialist, Atlantis Healthcare.  "For a chronic condition like diabetes, improved adherence to treatment can, among other things, reduce hospital admissions, avoid additional medical complications and enable a greater number of patients to meet clinical goals and achieve better health."

A literature review published in Diabetes Care confirmed there is poor compliance among diabetes patients for both oral hypoglycemic agents and insulin1.  Compliance to oral therapy ranged from 36 to 93% and certain studies confirmed patients took 67-85% of doses as prescribed. The author concluded "problems with poor self-management of drug therapy may exacerbate the burden of diabetes."

With more than 28 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, the cost of treatment nonadherence can be significant.  At the recent Diabetes Innovation 2013 conference, discussions focused on using patient education, social support and technology to improve medication adherence. According to Guerin, these strategies often don't address the psychological roots of the majority of nonadherence situations.

"The reality is that most treatment nonadherence is intentional – patients don't take their medication because they don't believe it's working, don't like the side effects or don't understand how it's helping their overall health," said Guerin.  "In these cases, interventions need to address the barriers to adherence grounded in each patient's belief system.  In order to change behavior, you need to impact those unhelpful beliefs."

Guerin believes the next frontier in diabetes care will involve personalized interventions designed to change patient perceptions about their illness.  "Patients need to be empowered to better self-manage their chronic illness – and successful programs need to go beyond support and simple reminders to shift patient beliefs to improve adherence behavior for the long-term," he said. 

For more information how companies are using health psychology to improve treatment nonadherence, visit

1. Cramer, JA. A systematic review of adherence with medications for diabetes. Diabetes Care 2004;27:1218-1224

About Atlantis Healthcare
Established in 1993, Atlantis Healthcare creates and executes tailored patient support programs and personalized interventions to address treatment adherence across a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, worldwide.  Led by one of the world's largest health psychology teams, our patient-centric approach is designed to improve health outcomes and deliver optimal value for all healthcare stakeholders. 


SOURCE Atlantis Healthcare