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13-10-2011 | Article

Combined medication times reduce dosing frequency


Free abstract

MedWire News: Using combined medication when treating patients with chronic conditions allows the frequency of dosing to be reduced and improves adherence to treatment, suggest study findings.

The findings are of importance as it is estimated that between 20% and 50% of patients with chronic conditions are unable to comply with treatment.

"Poor medication adherence will have a negative effect on patients' recovery, so an appropriate intervention to help patients improve their medication adherence is desirable," say Wen-Shan Jian (Taipei Medical University, Taiwan) and colleagues.

They add: "Published studies have shown that, based on the patients' lifestyle, simplification of the medication frequency and remodeling of the medication schedule is able to help improve medication adherence."

The team developed a personalized drug scheduling system by using the frequency table of the Taipei Veterans General Hospitals. Of the 144 available frequencies, 122 were included in the study, avoiding medication intervals shorter than a duration of 2 hours.

Frequencies were then divided into five categories, according to frequencies based on certain times of the day (lifestyle-dependent), with a fixed time interval between drug administration (fixed interval), taken on certain days of the week (weekly), taken at a fixed time each day (fixed/regular time), or as required (pro re nata). Drugs were combined when the time of administration was close, provided the combination was allowed.

Overall, the authors tried to integrate drug administration times with patients' daily routine to reduce medication frequency.

Analysis of the study findings showed that the proposed schedule of medication frequency was quite close to that of minimum medication frequency. Indeed, when the team compared their method to medication frequencies used by the general public and those proposed by experts, a significantly lower medication frequency was seen.

Further analysis showed that the new approach yielded 49.3% fewer prescriptions compared with expert optimization for prescriptions that included a medication frequency higher than four.

"This suggests that this system will be a great help to patients without any medical knowledge or background," say the authors.

"Thus, our approach was able to effectively reduce the number of prescriptions at higher medication frequencies," write the researchers in the journal Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine.

By Ingrid Grasmo