African American (AA) people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are at high morbidity and mortality risk, and they often require multiple medications. Low medication adherence is a highly prevalent, multidimensional problem associated with poor outcomes in people with SLE. Depression, a predictor of low adherence in people with chronic conditions, has been described in over 35% of AAs with SLE. We hypothesized that depressive symptoms would be increasingly associated with low adherence in this population.
Research subjects predominantly belong to the Georgians Organized Against Lupus cohort, a population-based cohort of predominantly AA individuals with SLE in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Medication adherence and severity of depressive symptoms were measured using validated self-reported tools: the 8-item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale and the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire, respectively. We used univariate and multivariate logistic regression to examine the odds ratios of low medication adherence across individuals with increasing severity of depressive symptoms.
Among 632 AA SLE participants, 336 (54%) reported low medication adherence and 217 (34.6%) reported “moderate” or “severe” depressive symptoms. In univariate logistic regression, significant risk factors for low adherence were depressive symptoms, low self-efficacy, poor satisfaction with care, female sex, younger age, hurried patient-physician communication, poorer shared decision-making, less compassionate physician communication style, poor/fair health, and higher disease activity score. In multivariate regression, younger age, female sex, and more severe depressive symptoms were associated with low medication adherence.
This is the first study to examine factors associated with low medication adherence among a population-based cohort of AA individuals with SLE. Depression was a strong correlate of low medication adherence. Mental health interventions aiming to address and treat depression may increase medication adherence.