Research Article: Adherence to hypertension medication: Quantitative and qualitative investigations in a rural Northern Vietnamese community

Date Published: February 1, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Thi-Phuong-Lan Nguyen, Catharina C. M. Schuiling-Veninga, Thi Bach Yen Nguyen, Thu-Hang Vu, E. Pamela Wright, Maarten J. Postma, Nanette H Bishopric.


The purposes of this study were to assess the adherence to medication of hypertensive patients visiting community health stations in a rural area in Vietnam, to examine the relationship between levels of adherence and cardiovascular risk among hypertensive patients and to further understand factors influencing adherence.

This study is part of a prospective one-year study conducted on hypertension management in a population aged 35 to 64 years. Data on age, sex, blood pressure and blood test results were collected at baseline. Cardiovascular risk was based on the Cardiovascular Risk Prediction Model for populations in Asia. To calculate medication adherence, the number of days the drug was taken was divided by the number of days since the first day of the prescription. A threshold of 80% was applied to differentiate between adherence and non-adherence. In-depth interviews were conducted among 18 subjects, including subjects classified as adherent and as non-adherent.

Among 315 patients analyzed, 49.8% of the patients were adherent. Qualitative investigation revealed discrepancies in classification of adherence and non-adherence based on quantitative analysis and interviews. No significant difference in medication compliance between two cardiovascular disease risk groups (<10% vs. >10% risk) was found, also not after controlling for age, sex, and ethnicity (adjusted odds ratio at 1.068; 95% CI: 0.614 to 1.857). The odds of medication adherence in females was 1.531 times higher than in males but the difference was not statistically significant (95% CI: 0.957 to 2.448). Each one-year increase in age resulted in patients being 1.036 times more likely to be compliant (95% CI: 1.002 to 1.072). Awareness of complications related to hypertension was given as the main reason for adherence to therapy.

Medication adherence rate was relatively low among hypertensive subjects. The data suggest that rather than risk profile, the factor of age should be considered for guiding the choice on who to target for improving medication adherence.

Partial Text

Many studies have suggested that a high level of adherence to antihypertensive drug treatment is related to better blood pressure (BP) control and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) [1–15]. The scarce studies available so far suggest that adherence to antihypertensive medication is often relatively low. A meta-analysis on data of 376,162 American patients showed an adherence to medication for preventing cardiovascular disease of only 57% [16]. Similarly, a study conducted in Italy showed that approximately 60% of the patients had a good-to-excellent adherence to antihypertensive medication [2], whereas in Poland only 26% of the cardiovascular patients used their drugs as prescribed [17]. Many Asian studies mimic this same trend of low medication adherence; the percentage of patients showing good adherence was 53% in Malaysia [8], 65% among Chinese populations [18], 55% in Korea [19] and 66% in Vietnam [20].

The results of our quantitative study showed that only 50% of the hypertensive patients managed at CHS in Vietnam were adherent to their medication, when we applied the 80% cut-off point for pill-days covered. There was no significant difference in adherence between patients with a high or low risk for CVD. However, adherence seemed to be influenced by age, as older patients used their medication more often in accordance with the doctor’s advice.

Medication adherence was relatively low among hypertensive subjects in Vietnam but similar to that in many other countries. CVD risk at baseline survey did not significantly differentiate adherent from non-adherent subjects. Yet, significant differences in adherence were found for age. This may suggest that rather than risk profile, age should be considered for guiding the choice on who to target for improving medication adherence. Our qualitative study enabled further detailing of factors influencing adherence and indicated that the quantitative results should be interpreted with caution.




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