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Sun K, Corneli AL, Dombeck C, Swezey T, Rogers JL, Criscione-Schreiber LG, Sadun RE, Eudy AM, Doss J, Bosworth HB, Clowse MEB. Barriers to Taking Medications for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Qualitative Study of Racial Minority Patients, Lupus Providers, and Clinic Staff. Arthritis care & research. 2022 Sep 1; 74(9):1459-1467.
OBJECTIVE: Underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Racial and ethnic minorities also have more severe SLE manifestations that require use of immunosuppressive medications, and often have lower rates of medication adherence. We aimed to explore barriers of adherence to SLE immunosuppressive medications among minority SLE patients. METHODS: We conducted a qualitative descriptive study using in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of racial minority SLE patients taking oral immunosuppressants (methotrexate, azathioprine, or mycophenolate), and lupus clinic providers and staff. Interviews were audiorecorded, transcribed, and analyzed using applied thematic analysis. We grouped themes using the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation, Behavior conceptual model. RESULTS: We interviewed 12 SLE patients (4 adherent, 8 nonadherent) and 12 providers and staff. We identified capability barriers to include external factors related to acquiring medications, specifically cost-, pharmacy-, and clinic-related issues; opportunity barriers to include external barriers to taking medications, specifically logistic- and medication-related issues; and motivation factors to include intrinsic barriers, encompassing patients' knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and physical and mental health. The most frequently described barriers were cost, side effects, busyness/forgetting, and lack of understanding, although barriers differed by patient and adherence level, with logistic and intrinsic barriers described predominantly by nonadherent patients and side effects described predominantly by adherent patients. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that interventions may be most impactful if they are designed to facilitate logistics of taking medications and increase patients' motivation while allowing for personalization to address the individual differences in adherence barriers.