A pilot study of the S-MAP (Solutions for Medications Adherence Problems) intervention for older adults prescribed polypharmacy in primary care: study protocol

Deborah Patton, J J Francis, E. Clark, F. Smith, C. A. Cadogan, Carmel Hughes, C. Ryan

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Adhering to multiple medications as prescribed is challenging for older patients (aged ≥ 65 years) and a difficult behaviour to improve. Previous interventions designed to address this have been largely complex in nature but have shown limited effectiveness and have rarely used theory in their design. It has been recognised that theory (‘a systematic way of understanding events or situations’) can guide intervention development and help researchers better understand how complex adherence interventions work. This pilot study aims to test a novel community pharmacy-based intervention that has been systematically developed using the Theoretical Domains Framework (12-domain version) of behaviour change.

As part of a non-randomised pilot study, pharmacists in 12 community pharmacies across Northern Ireland (n = 6) and London, England (n = 6), will be trained to deliver the intervention to older patients who are prescribed ≥ 4 regular medicines and are non-adherent (self-reported). Ten patients will be recruited per pharmacy (n = 120) and offered up to four tailored one-to-one sessions, in the pharmacy or via telephone depending on their adherence, over a 3–4-month period. Guided by an electronic application (app) on iPads, the intervention content will be tailored to each patient’s underlying reasons for non-adherence and mapped to the most appropriate solutions using established behaviour change techniques. This study will assess the feasibility of collecting data on the primary outcome of medication adherence (self-report and dispensing data) and secondary outcomes (health-related quality of life and unplanned hospitalisations). An embedded process evaluation will assess training fidelity for pharmacy staff, intervention fidelity, acceptability to patients and pharmacists and the intervention’s mechanism of action. Process evaluation data will include audio-recordings of training workshops, intervention sessions, feedback interviews and patient surveys. Analysis will be largely descriptive.

Using pre-defined progression criteria, the findings from this pilot study will guide the decision whether to proceed to a cluster randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of the S-MAP intervention in comparison to usual care in community pharmacies. The study will also explore how the intervention components may work to bring about change in older patients’ adherence behaviour and guide further refinement of the intervention and study procedures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number116
Number of pages12
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2019


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