Background: Adherence to medication is an issue of great importance for patients with ulcerative colitis. Once daily mesalazine seems to be no worse than divided doses in preventing relapse in remitting patients. Although this has been attributed to improved adherence, detailed measures of adherence have been lacking from previous studies.
Methods: A 1-year substudy was conducted alongside a trial that compared 2 different dosing regimens (once daily versus three times daily) of mesalazine for patients in remission with ulcerative colitis. Participants in the substudy had their adherence monitored electronically using the medication event monitoring system, self-report, and tablet counts. We compared measures, determined factors associated with adherence and associations between adherence and relapse, modeled adherence over time, and explored behavioral aspects.
Results: We included 58 participants. Adherence was high across all measures (89.3% self-report, 96.7% tablet counts, and 89.2% medication event monitoring system). Agreement between the measures was poor at times. Adherence according to the medication event monitoring system best distinguished between the participants who relapsed (71.4%) and those who remained in remission (93.4%), although this difference was not statistically discernible at the 5% level. Adherence deteriorated over the study period, with three times daily participants generally less adherent than once-daily participants (odds ratio, 0.03; 95% confidence interval, 0.01–0.08). Adherence was higher on weekdays (odds ratio, 1.47; 95% confidence interval, 1.31–1.65) and around clinic visit dates (odds ratio, 1.43; 95% confidence interval, 1.18–1.72).
Conclusions: Simple dosing regimens are preferable to multiple daily dosing regimens. Electronic monitoring of adherence should be used more often in clinical studies. Self-reported adherence and tablet counts may underestimate adherence. Adherence declined over time, and adherence was generally lower and more varied for those allocated to the three times daily regimen.