Measuring adherence to therapy in airways disease

Joshua Holmes, Liam G. Heaney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
90 Downloads (Pure)


Non-adherence to medication is one of the most significant issues in all airways disease and can have a major impact on disease control as well as on unscheduled healthcare utilisation. It is vital that clinicians can accurately determine a patient’s level of adherence in order to ensure they are gaining the maximal benefit from their therapy and also to avoid any potential for unnecessary increases in therapy. It is essential that measurements of adherence are interpreted alongside biomarkers of mechanistic pathways to identify if improvements in medication adherence can influence disease control. In this review, the most common methods of measuring adherence are discussed. These include patient self-report, prescription record checks, canister weighing, dose counting, monitoring drug levels and electronic monitoring. We describe the uses and benefits of each method as well as potential shortcomings. The practical use of adherence measures with measurable markers of disease control is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number210037
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
J. Holmes has nothing to disclose. L.G. Heaney reports other (sponsorship for attending international scientific meetings) from AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Chiesi, GSK and Napp Pharmaceuticals; personal fees (lecture fees and advisory boards) from Novartis, Hoffman la Roche/Genentech Inc, Sanofi, Evelo Biosciences, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Teva, Theravance and Circassia; institutional grant funding from Medimmune, Novartis UK, Roche/Genentech Inc, and GlaxoSmithKline, outside the submitted work. L.G. Heaney is Academic Lead for the Medical Research Council Stratified Medicine UK Consortium in Severe Asthma which involves Industrial Partnerships with Amgen, Genentech/Hoffman la Roche, AstraZeneca, Medimmune, GlaxoSmit Kline, Aerocrine and Vitalograph, outside the submitted work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, European Respiratory Society. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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