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Bosworth HB, Brown JN, Danus S, Sanders LL, McCant F, Zullig LL, Olsen MK. Evaluation of a packaging approach to improve cholesterol medication adherence. The American journal of managed care. 2017 Sep 1; 23(9):e280-e286.
OBJECTIVES: Elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is a major modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death in the United States. Our goal was to evaluate a simple, scalable, and affordable medication packaging method for improving cholesterol medication adherence and subsequently lowering LDL-C levels. STUDY DESIGN: Mixed-method study. METHODS: This mixed-method study involved US military veterans with LDL-C levels greater than 130 mg/dL and/or less than 80% refill adherence of cholesterol-lowering medication in the last 12 months; they were randomized to an education-only (control) group or an adherence packaging intervention group. Adherence packaging group participants'' statin medication was provided in special blister packaging labeled for daily use that included written reminder prompts. Outcomes included 12-month cholesterol medication possession ratio (MPR) for medication refills; baseline, 6-, and 12-month self-reported cholesterol medication use; LDL-C and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels; and total cholesterol changes over 12 months. Qualitative evaluation of the intervention is presented as well. RESULTS: We enrolled 240 individuals (120 intervention, 120 control). Overall, 54.2% of the adherence packaging intervention group was adherent per MPR over 12 months compared with 46.6% of the education-only group (difference = 7.6%; 95% confidence interval, -5% to 20%; P = .24). Both arms reported improvements in self-reported cholesterol adherence at 12 months, and decreases in LDL-C, HDL-C, and total cholesterol were observed, but differences in change between arms were not statistically significant. Qualitatively, patients reported high levels of satisfaction with the blister package. CONCLUSIONS: In a sample of US veterans, prefilled calendared blister packaging provided an inexpensive method for improving cholesterol medication adherence.