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Optimizing Adherence to Oral Chemotherapy

According to a single-center study reported by Jacobs et al in the Journal of Oncology Practice, the strongest predictor of treatment adherence in patients receiving oral chemotherapy was improved satisfaction with clinician communication and treatment. Also predictive of adherence was a reduced sense of burden to family or friends.

Nearly 100 patients (including 50 women) took part in this prospective study. These patients had chronic myeloid leukemia or metastatic renal cell carcinoma, non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), or breast cancer. They were recruited from the cancer outpatient clinic at a major medical center in Boston. At least 2 weeks before enrollment in the study, these patients had been prescribed an oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor, endocrine therapy, or capecitabine.

Over the 12 weeks, on average, 89.3% of patients took their prescribed oral chemotherapy, as measured by the Medication Event Monitoring System. Approximately 25% of the sample was less than 90% adherent. Better adherence seemed to be linked to improvements in patient symptom distress, depressive symptoms, quality of life, satisfaction with clinician communication and treatment, and perceived burden to others.

The investigators concluded: “Interventions that help patients improve communication with clinicians and reduce burden may optimize oral chemotherapy adherence.”