UBC Faculty Research and Publications

How do patients with systemic autoimmune rheumatic disease perceive the use of their medications: a systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative research Haag, Hans; Liang, Tim; Avina-Zubieta, J. Antonio; De Vera, Mary A


Background: Pharmacotherapy is paramount to the management of systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARDs), yet there is sub-optimal adherence and limited adherence interventions. To understand how to better support patients’ medication use, our two-fold objectives were: 1) to conduct a systematic review of qualitative research studies of medication taking among SARD patients; and 2) to thematically synthesize qualitative research studies to obtain SARD patients’ perspectives and experiences with medication use. Methods: We conducted a search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Social Sciences Citation Index databases to identify qualitative research studies exploring views on medication use among patients with SARDs, their healthcare providers, or caregivers. We used thematic synthesis to combine data from selected studies, and identify analytical themes on SARD patients’ perspectives and experiences with medication use. Results: Our systematic review identified 18 studies. Thematic synthesis identified seven analytical themes: 1) effects of medications on emotional and social well-being, 2) impacts of healthcare provider relationships on treatment, 3) gaining control over treatment, 4) fear and concern with side effects of treatment, 5) understanding the importance of treatment, 6) practical barriers to taking medication, and 7) motivation towards adherence to treatment. Conclusion: This systematic review and thematic synthesis contributes to better understanding of SARDs patients’ perspectives on medication use. Given the paucity of existing adherence interventions targeting this patient population, our study has certain practical implications for care, namely the need to address emotional and social impacts of medication use and the necessity of establishing a meaningful and trusting professional relationship with patients.

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