Randomised controlled trial targeting habit formation to improve medication adherence to daily oral medications in patients with gout


Fontanet CP, Choudhry NK, Wood W, Robertson T, Haff N, Oran R, Sears ES, Kim E, Hanken K, Barlev RA, Lauffenburger JC, Feldman CH. Randomised controlled trial targeting habit formation to improve medication adherence to daily oral medications in patients with gout. BMJ Open 2021;11(11):e055930.

Date Published:

Nov 24


INTRODUCTION: Medication adherence for patients with chronic conditions such as gout, a debilitating form of arthritis that requires daily medication to prevent flares, is a costly problem. Existing interventions to improve medication adherence have only been moderately effective. Habit formation theory is a promising strategy to improve adherence. The cue-reward-repetition principle posits that habits are formed by repeatedly completing an activity after the same cue and having the action rewarded every time. Over time, cues become increasingly important whereas rewards become less salient because the action becomes automatic. Leveraging the cue-reward-repetition principle could improve adherence to daily gout medications. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This three-arm parallel randomised controlled trial tests an adaptive intervention that leverages the repetition cue-reward principle. The trial will began recruitment in August 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Eligible patients are adults with gout who have been prescribed a daily oral medication for gout and whose most recent uric acid is above 6 mg/dL. Participants will be randomised to one of three arms and given electronic pill bottles. In the two intervention arms, participants will select a daily activity to link to their medication-taking (cue) and a charity to which money will be donated every time they take their medication (reward). Participants in Arm 1 will receive reminder texts about their cue and their charity reward amount will be US$0.50 per day of medication taken. Arm 2 will be adaptive; participants will receive a US$0.25 per adherent-day and no reminder texts. If their adherence is <75% 6 weeks postrandomisation, their reward will increase to US$0.50 per adherent-day and they will receive reminder texts. The primary outcome is adherence to gout medications over 18 weeks. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This trial has ethical approval in the USA. Results will be published in a publicly accessible peer-reviewed journal. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT04776161.


2044-6055Fontanet, Constance POrcid: 0000-0002-8253-1598Choudhry, Niteesh KWood, WendyRobertson, TedHaff, NancyOran, RebeccaSears, Ellen SKim, ErinHanken, KaitlinBarlev, Renee ALauffenburger, Julie COrcid: 0000-0002-4940-4140Feldman, Candace HK23 AR071500/AR/NIAMS NIH HHS/United StatesP30 AG064199/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United StatesJournal ArticleResearch Support, N.I.H., Extramural2021/11/26BMJ Open. 2021 Nov 24;11(11):e055930. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-055930.

Last updated on 12/13/2021