Importance of Medication Adherence in Diabetes

Medicines placed on table

Diabetes is a complex disorder typically requiring multiple medications to achieve control of blood sugar levels. Blood sugar control is an important aspect of diabetes treatment in order to avoid serious and long term complications.

For a person with diabetes, sticking to the treatment plan provided by the diabetes doctor is the first step to take in order to stay healthy. This involves taking medicines on time as instructed by the doctor and is called medication adherence in medical parlance.


What is medication adherence?

Taking medications as instructed at the right time of day, frequency, and dosage is medication adherence. This is a significant factor for a patient’s successful management of diabetes. Medication adherence directly influences glycemic control and clinical consequences.

More often than not, people with diabetes find it difficult to adhere to their medication plan totally. This is because of various factors including complacence, lack of knowledge, unavailability of specific medications, and lack of communication between the care teams and patients.

It is important for both the caregivers, clinic team, and the patients to work together and address key issues that hinder medication adherence. This way, by sticking to the treatment plan, people with diabetes have better chances to avoid serious complications and lead a healthy life.


Key strategies to improve medication adherence

Spreading Awareness and Knowledge:

Studies reveal that taking medications as part of a daily routine and utilizing pill boxes were the most frequently reported helpful methods to improve adherence.  The three most motivating factors that patients identified were their knowledge that diabetes medications work effectively to lower blood glucose, understanding how they could manage side effects of their medications and a better understanding of the drugs’ benefits.


Addressing side effects:

Non-adherence has been linked with poorer treatment outcomes and progression of disease symptoms and complications. Another interesting aspect is that factors such as inability to afford a prescription or adverse reactions to a drug such as weight gain or nausea, also contribute for patient’s non-adherence to medications. In such cases, the clinic team and patients should work closely in order find the right prescription that works for the patient.


Ensuring Constant Communication:

Non-adherence of medications is found to have a significant impact on risk of diabetes complications. However, once patients leave the clinic, they generally find it difficult to communicate with the care team for any small query. By keeping communication channels open so that the clinic team and patients constantly interact ensures better results.