Predictors of adherence to inhaled medications among veterans with COPD

John C. Huetsch, Jane E. Uman, Edmunds M. Udris, David H. Au

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Factors contributing to medication nonadherence among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are poorly understood. OBJECTIVES: To identify patient characteristics that are predictive of adherence to inhaled medications for COPD and, for patients on multiple inhalers, to assess whether adherence to one medication class was associated with adherence to other medication classes. DESIGN: Cohort study using data from Veteran Affairs (VA) electronic databases. PARTICIPANTS: This study included 2,730 patients who underwent pulmonary function testing between 2003 and 2007 at VA facilities in the Northwestern United States, and who met criteria for COPD. MAIN MEASURES: We used pharmacy records to estimate adherence to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), ipratropium bromide (IP), and long-acting beta-agonists (LABA) over two consecutive six month periods. We defined patients as adherent if they had refilled medications to have 80 % of drug available over the time period. We also collected information on their demographics, behavioral habits, COPD severity, and comorbidities. KEY RESULTS: Adherence to medications was poor, with 19.8 % adherent to ICS, 30.6 % adherent to LABA, and 25.6 % adherent to IP. Predictors of adherence to inhaled therapies were highly variable and dependent on the medication being examined. In adjusted analysis, being adherent to a medication at baseline was the strongest predictor of future adherence to that same medication [(Odds ratio, 95 % confidence interval) ICS: 4.79 (3.22-7.12); LABA: 6.60 (3.92-11.11); IP: 14.13 (10.00-19.97)], but did not reliably predict adherence to other classes of medication. CONCLUSIONS: Among patients with COPD, past adherence to one class of inhaled medication strongly predicted future adherence to the same class of medication, but only weakly predicted adherence to other classes of medication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1506-1512
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Health behavior
  • Medication adherence
  • Pulmonary diseases
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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