Physician effectiveness in interventions to improve cardiovascular medication adherence: a systematic review

UMMS Affiliation

Meyers Primary Care Institute

Publication Date


Document Type



Cardiovascular Agents; Cardiovascular Diseases; Health Personnel; Humans; *Medication Adherence; *Physician's Role; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


Cardiovascular Diseases | Health Services Research


BACKGROUND: Medications for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease save lives but adherence is often inadequate. The optimal role for physicians in improving adherence remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: Using existing evidence, we set the goal of evaluating the physician's role in improving medication adherence.

DESIGN: We conducted systematic searches of English-language peer-reviewed publications in MEDLINE and EMBASE from 1966 through 12/31/2008.

SUBJECTS AND INTERVENTIONS: We selected randomized controlled trials of interventions to improve adherence to medications used for preventing or treating cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

MAIN MEASURES: Articles were classified as either (1) physician "active"-a physician participated in designing or implementing the intervention; (2) physician "passive"-physicians treating intervention group patients received patient adherence information while physicians treating controls did not; or (3) physicians noninvolved. We also identified studies in which healthcare professionals helped deliver the intervention. We did a meta-analysis of the studies involving healthcare professionals to determine aggregate Cohen's D effect sizes (ES).

KEY RESULTS: We identified 6,550 articles; 168 were reviewed in full, 82 met inclusion criteria. The majority of all studies (88.9%) showed improved adherence. Physician noninvolved studies were more likely (35.0% of studies) to show a medium or large effect on adherence compared to physician-involved studies (31.3%). Among interventions requiring a healthcare professional, physician-noninvolved interventions were more effective (ES 0.47; 95% CI 0.38-0.56) than physician-involved interventions (ES 0.25; 95% CI 0.21-0.29; p < 0.001). Among physician-involved interventions, physician-passive interventions were marginally more effective (ES 0.29; 95% CI 0.22-0.36) than physician-active interventions (ES 0.23; 95% CI 0.17-0.28; p = 0.2).

CONCLUSIONS: Adherence interventions utilizing non-physician healthcare professionals are effective in improving cardiovascular medication adherence, but further study is needed to identify the optimal role for physicians.

DOI of Published Version



J Gen Intern Med. 2010 Oct;25(10):1090-6. Epub 2010 May 13. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of general internal medicine

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID