Black Medicare patients less likely than whites to follow their doctor's instructions on taking medicines

Research Activities, January 2011, No. 365

Even after adjusting for factors like age, sex, health literacy, depression, and social support, black elderly Medicare patients are less likely to follow their physician's instructions on how to take medications, concludes a new study. In unadjusted comparisons, blacks were three times as likely as whites to run out of medicine before refilling a prescription (odds ratio [OR] = 3.01), more than twice as likely to not follow their physician's instructions (OR = 2.64), but not more likely to forget to take medications. After adjusting for demographic and other factors like prescription drug coverage and health status, race was no longer associated with not refilling medication prescriptions. Yet, blacks were still more than twice as likely as whites not to follow their phyisican's instructions for taking medication (OR = 2.49).

The researchers invited elderly Medicare recipients who had at least one outpatient visit to clinics associated with a Chicago health system within the previous 4 years to participate in the study. Of 633 eligible patients, 489 participated in the face-to-face survey (266 blacks and 184 whites) either at home or at the clinic. They were asked to rate their health on a 5-point scale, and given brief tests of health literacy, geriatric depression, and social support. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13004).

More details are in "Racial differences in medication adherence: A cross-sectional study of Medicare enrollees," by Ben S. Gerber, M.D., M.P.H., Young Ik Cho, Ph.D., Ahsan M. Arozullah, M.D., M.P.H., and others in the April 2010 American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy 8(2), pp. 136-145.

Current as of January 2011
Internet Citation: Black Medicare patients less likely than whites to follow their doctor's instructions on taking medicines: Research Activities, January 2011, No. 365. January 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/jan11/0111RA15.html