Use of rheumatology-specific patient navigators to understand and reduce barriers to medication adherence: Analysis of qualitative findings

Citation:

Wohlfahrt A, Campos A, Iversen MD, Gagne JJ, Massarotti E, Solomon DH, Feldman CH. Use of rheumatology-specific patient navigators to understand and reduce barriers to medication adherence: Analysis of qualitative findings. PLoS One. 2018;13 (7) :e0200886.

Date Published:

2018

Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: Adherence to medications among patients with rheumatic diseases is often suboptimal. Patient navigators, individuals trained in care coordination, motivational interviewing and basic rheumatology and pharmacology, have not been employed to explore and address this issue. We piloted a single-site, single arm intervention to determine the feasibility and acceptability of using rheumatology-specific navigators to understand and reduce barriers to adherence to oral disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). We analyzed our qualitative findings from navigator-patient interactions as well as patient satisfaction with the intervention. METHODS: We recruited patients ≥18 years with a systemic rheumatic disease who initiated an oral DMARD within the prior 6 months. Navigators conducted baseline needs assessments and 2-4 week follow-up calls to understand and address issues related to medication adherence. We analyzed patient-navigator encounters qualitatively using content analysis to identify key themes related to barriers to adherence and navigator actions performed in response to the barriers described. We also categorized intentional and unintentional nonadherent behavior and assessed satisfaction with the navigator experience (range 0-5, 5 = most satisfied). RESULTS: 107 rheumatology patients were followed for up to 6 months. Mean patient age was 55 years (+17) and 93% were female; 36% described one or more episode of intentional or unintentional nonadherence. The three most common themes identified as barriers to adherence were fear of adverse events (raised by 54%), concerns about medication effectiveness (43%), and challenges with medication acquisition (32%). 86% of participants described at least one adherence-related barrier. Frequent navigator actions included facilitation of patient-doctor communication (38%), medication and diagnosis education (27%), and development of individualized strategies to improve adherence (16%). Patients were satisfied with the navigator experience (mean 4.4 + 0.9). CONCLUSION: Navigators uncovered and addressed a number of medication adherence-related concerns and patients were satisfied with the services provided.