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Adherence to Therapy Lowers Mortality, Even with Placebo

Review of studies shows good adherence is marker for overall healthy behavior

FRIDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Subjects in clinical trials who adhere to their drug therapy regimen have a lower mortality rate, even when they are part of the placebo group, according to a report in the July 1 issue of BMJ. The results support the existence of a "healthy adherer" effect in which adherence is a surrogate marker for overall healthy behavior.

Scot H. Simpson, Pharm.D., from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 21 studies reporting mortality data and level of adherence to drug therapy regimens.

Overall, good adherence to drug therapy was associated with a lower risk for mortality than poor adherence (odds ratio, 0.56). And mortality risk was similar when considering good adherence to placebo or to beneficial drug therapy (odds ratio, 0.56 versus 0.55, respectively).

The lower mortality seen in healthy adherers may be linked with placebo-related effects seen in other studies, according to a commentary by Betty Chewning, Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She suggests that patient-centered approaches to treatment and motivational interviewing could yield extra value in treatment regimens that patients agree to and believe in.

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