Results Summary

PCORI funded the Pilot Projects to explore how to conduct and use patient-centered outcomes research in ways that can better serve patients and the healthcare community. Learn more.

Background

About three in 10 patients do not go to the pharmacy to get the medicine their doctor has prescribed. Some researchers believe that better communication between patients, doctors, and pharmacists may make it more likely that patients will fill their prescription medicines.

Project Purpose

In this project, researchers tried to figure out why patients do not get their blood pressure medicine. Researchers also created and tested an online guide to help patients make the decision to pick up their blood pressure medicine.

Methods

First, researchers talked to patients, primary care providers, and pharmacists. They asked questions about why patients choose not to get the blood pressure medicines their doctors have prescribed.

The researchers summarized the information from the discussions. They then used it to make an online guide that provided information about high blood pressure and why it is important to pick up and use blood pressure medicine prescribed by a doctor.

Then the researchers tested the online guide in a study with 232 patients. The patients had all dropped off prescriptions for blood pressure medicine at a pharmacy but had not come back to pick them up.

The researchers randomly assigned the 232 patients to three groups. The researchers gave the first group a brochure with information about high blood pressure. Patients in the second group participated in an interview about their views on high blood pressure and taking medications to treat it. Patients in the third group participated in the interview and received the new online guide created by the research team.

After 30 days, the researchers checked pharmacy records to see if the patients had picked up their blood pressure medicine. The researchers compared how many patients in each of the three groups ended up picking up their blood pressure medicine.

Findings

In the discussions, the researchers found several things that might make patients more likely to get their blood pressure medicine, including:

  • Patients’ trust in their doctors
  • Patients and doctors making healthcare decisions together about how to treat high blood pressure

Doctors and patients liked the idea of having an online guide to help patients understand the importance of getting their medicine. However, in each of the three groups, about the same number of patients picked up their prescriptions; the patients who used the online guide did not pick up their medicine more often than patients in the other groups.

Limitations

This was a small study, and it may not have had enough patients to allow researchers to tell if there were true differences among the three groups. Some people who did not pick up their medicine right away may have picked it up after the study ended. Compared with study participants, people who were not in the study might have different reasons for not getting their medicine.

Conclusions

In the interviews, the researchers learned that patients may be more likely to get their blood pressure medicine when they and their doctors communicate well and work together to make decisions. The researchers found that the group that used the online guide did not get their medicine more often than the other groups.

Sharing the Results

The researchers made the online guide used in this study available on multiple websites. It is available here.

More to Explore...

PCORI Stories

Take as Directed (or Why Not?)
A narrative about a Boston team of researchers that is devising tools to help patients who refuse to take newly prescribed medication talk to their doctors about their concerns.

Journal Citations

Project Information

Michael Fischer, MD, MS^
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Inc.
$518,904
Developing and Testing a Decision Support Tool for Primary Medication Adherence

Key Dates

June 2012
June 2015
2012
2015

Study Registration Information

^Jennifer Polinski, ScD, MPH was the original principal investigator for this project.

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Last updated: March 4, 2022