Adherence to medication regimens among low-income patients with multiple comorbid chronic conditions

Shiraz I. Mishra, Deborah Gioia, Saltanat Childress, Beth Barnet, Ramothea L. Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


This qualitative study sought to explore facilitators and barriers to adherence to multiple medications among low-income patients with comorbid chronic physical and mental health conditions. The 50 focus group participants identified personal/contextual and health system factors as major impediments to adherence to multiple medications. These factors included medication side effects, fear of harm from medication, fear of dependence on medication, complex instructions, suboptimal communications with doctor, suspicion about doctors' and pharmaceutical companies' motives in prescribing medication, and the high cost of medications. Participants also identified motivators, both internal (self-initiated) and external (initiated by family, doctor, support groups), to ensure adherence to multiple medications. These motivators included self-discipline, sense of personal responsibility, faith, support from family members and doctors, and focused health education and self-management support. Three themes emerged that enhanced understanding of the complexity of adherence to multiple medications: (1) reaching one's own threshold for medication adherence, (2) lack of shared information and decision making, and (3) taking less than the prescribed medication. Further analysis of the data revealed that the patients perceived a lack of shared decision making in the management of their comorbid chronic conditions and their medication regimen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
JournalHealth & social work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Comorbidity
  • Disease management
  • Focus group
  • Medication adherence or compliance
  • Polypharmacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)


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