Doctor Trust Helps Patients Stick with Meds

Depression can have opposite effect, study finds

TUESDAY, Aug. 9, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Depression and trust in their doctors are important factors influencing whether patients take their prescription medicines, and this may be especially true when medication costs are high, researchers report.

The study of 912 patients with diabetes found that patients who trust their doctors are more likely to take their prescription drugs, even if they have high out-of-pocket costs. Patients who don't trust their doctors or who have depression-like symptoms are much more likely to forego doses or refills if they're faced with high drug costs.

The findings, by researchers at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare Center and the University of Michigan (U-M), show how important the doctor-patient relationship can be when patients have to cope with high drug costs. The researchers said their study shows that doctors need to talk with patients beyond just telling patients how a medicine will help them. Doctors also need to talk to patients about their ability to pay for drugs and the availability of cheaper drugs.

"Our findings suggest that a trusting patient-physician relationship can significantly influence whether a person sticks to prescriptions when that patient faces pressures from their medication costs," study author Dr. John Piette, a member of the VA Ann Arbor Center for Practice Management and Outcomes Research and an associate professor in the U-M Medical School's general medicine division, said in a prepared statement.

Doctors need to recognize the multiple benefits from reaching out to establish trust with their patients, making an effort to form a strong bond, and asking patients how they're being affected by drug costs. The report, published in the August issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, also offers guidance for patients.

"It's important to be open and honest with your doctor regarding worries about how you're going to pay for your medicines, as well as other things such as side effects and lifestyle issues that might keep you from taking your medications, and any depression-like symptoms such as prolonged sadness or sleep and appetite changes," Piette said.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has more about taking medicines.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Aug. 8, 2005
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