OBJECTIVE: Nonadherence to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) is common, worsens during the treatment course, and results in adverse outcomes. We studied whether patient navigators (laypersons trained in care coordination, motivational interviewing, basic pharmacology, and disease management) improved oral DMARD adherence.
METHODS: We enrolled 107 patients ages ≥18 years with systemic rheumatic diseases who initiated an oral DMARD within 6 months. Navigators interacted with patients up to 2-4 times per week for 6 months. Patients completed validated surveys (Morisky Medication Adherence Scale [MMAS-8], Mental Health Inventory [MHI-5], Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire, and Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire) at baseline and at 6 months. We used paired t-tests to compare baseline and 6-month outcomes. We examined the association of age, race/ethnicity, insurance, and MHI-5 with change in MMAS-8 score using multivariable linear regression.
RESULTS: Among 107 patients enrolled, 69 (64%) completed baseline and 6-month MMAS-8 surveys. Mean ± SD age was 55 ± 16 years and 93% were female. The mean ± SD baseline MMAS-8 score was 6.7 ± 1.3 (indicating borderline adherence), and the mean ± SD MHI-5 score was 60.8 ± 9.1 (<68 suggests any depressive symptoms). After 6 months, there were no significant changes in MMAS-8 (P = 0.09) or MHI-5 (P = 0.83). Patients described fewer medication concerns (P = 0.03), but a more threatening perception of illness (P = 0.01). Our multivariable model demonstrated a small change in MMAS-8 for each 5-year increase in age (β = 0.14, P = 0.02).
CONCLUSION: Our intervention resulted in no significant change in adherence from baseline. A multicenter, randomized controlled trial is needed to determine whether patient navigators are effective in maintaining adherence to DMARDs over time.