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Adult diabetic medication adherence tied directly to financial issues


More than twice as many adults aged 45 to 65 with diabetes reported skipping doses of medication to save money, according to new data.

About one in five adults aged 45 to 64 with diabetes reported having reduced or delayed medication to save money in the last year, according to data published recently in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“When a doctor or other health professional prescribes a medication, it is because the patient needs it,” Sarah E. Lessem, PhD, a health statistician at National Center for Health Statistics, told Medical Economics. “If there are specific groups that are more likely to reduce or delay taking medication, it is important to know this.”

This finding was drawn from responses to the 2015 National Health Interview Survey. Data were included for all respondents who answered “yes” to the question, “During the past 12 months, were you prescribed medication by a doctor or other health professional?”

Respondents who answered “yes” were then asked if during the past 12 months, any of the following were true:
• You skipped medication doses to save money?
• You took less medicine to save money?
• You delayed filling a prescription to save money?

Any reduction or delay in medication to save money was determined based on a response of “yes” to any of the three questions. Medication refers to any medication prescribed, not just medication for diabetes.

Next: How adults 45 or older fared



The study showed that among adults aged 45 or greater who were prescribed medication, adults with diabetes were significantly more likely to skip doses of medication (13.2% vs. 6.4%), take less medicine (14.4% vs. 6.9%) and delay filling prescriptions (16.3% vs. 7.9%) to save money than were those in the same age group who did not have diabetes.  

“About 1 in 5 people between 45 and 64 with diabetes who were prescribed medication reduced or delayed taking medication to save money,” Lessem said. “Older adults, aged 65 or greater, who have been prescribed medication are less likely to reduce or delay medication than adults aged 45 to 64 adults regardless of diabetes status.”

Only 4.7% of adults aged 65 or older without diabetes reduced or delayed medication compared with 6.8% of those with diabetes. 

“Nearly all adults aged 65 and over are eligible for Medicare. Medicare coverage may be associated with the better ability to afford medication, but this analysis did not directly explore that association,” Lessem said. “We did not present analysis of individuals younger than 45 because relatively few adults in this age group were prescribed medication.  This means not enough people in this age group were asked the questions for our finding to have enough power to show statistically meaningful results.” 

Lessem also noted that this study did not look at what kind of prescription medications were being delayed, skipped or reduced, and that without this information the researchers cannot know the consequences of not receiving the medication as prescribed. 

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