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Predictors of medication nonadherence may be useful to identify older adults who are most in need of interventions to improve adherence (Table 3). Nonadherence warning signs may include:

  • Not filling a new prescription
  • Not obtaining refills as often as expected for medications taken on a chronic basis
  • Not refilling prescriptions for chronic medications
  • Not completing the entire course of therapy for short-term treatment

Identification of older persons at risk for medication nonadherence is just the first step in addressing this potential problem. In order to have an impact on adherence, health care providers must understand the barriers to adherence and tools and methods that can be used to overcome these barriers. Overcoming one barrier or providing a single intervention will not guarantee medication adherence. In fact, studies show that no single intervention is adequate to ensure medication adherence (Hughes, 2004). A combination of approaches tailored to the individual person's needs that target specific barriers to adherence and reinforce positive behaviors is the most effective (Krueger et al., 2005).

As illustrated in Figure 2 and detailed in Table 2, factors that affect medication adherence can be grouped into five categories. This web site is organized accordingly: five sections will discuss the specific factors in each dimension that create barriers to medication adherence in older adults and will provide suggested strategies to overcome those barriers. The left-hand navigation bar contains useful techniques, tools, and forms to promote adherence as well as a list of all references cited in the text.