How patients take malaria treatment: a systematic review of the literature on adherence to antimalarial drugs.

Bruxvoort, K; Goodman, C; Kachur, SP; Schellenberg, D; (2014) How patients take malaria treatment: a systematic review of the literature on adherence to antimalarial drugs. PLoS One, 9 (1). e84555. ISSN 1932-6203 DOI:

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BACKGROUND High levels of patient adherence to antimalarial treatment are important in ensuring drug effectiveness. To achieve this goal, it is important to understand levels of patient adherence, and the range of study designs and methodological challenges involved in measuring adherence and interpreting results. Since antimalarial adherence was reviewed in 2004, there has been a major expansion in the use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in the public sector, as well as initiatives to make them more widely accessible through community health workers and private retailers. These changes and the large number of recent adherence studies raise the need for an updated review on this topic. OBJECTIVE We conducted a systematic review of studies reporting quantitative results on patient adherence to antimalarials obtained for treatment. RESULTS The 55 studies identified reported extensive variation in patient adherence to antimalarials, with many studies reporting very high adherence (90-100%) and others finding adherence of less than 50%. We identified five overarching approaches to assessing adherence based on the definition of adherence and the methods used to measure it. Overall, there was no clear pattern in adherence results by approach. However, adherence tended to be higher among studies where informed consent was collected at the time of obtaining the drug, where patient consultations were directly observed by research staff, and where a diagnostic test was obtained. CONCLUSION Variations in reported adherence may reflect factors related to patient characteristics and the nature of their consultation with the provider, as well as methodological variations such as interaction between the research team and patients before and during the treatment. Future studies can benefit from an awareness of the impact of study procedures on adherence outcomes, and the identification of improved measurement methods less dependent on self-report.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Global Health and Development
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Disease Control
Research Centre: Malaria Centre
PubMed ID: 24465418
Web of Science ID: 330240500018


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