The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical conditions and medication adherence in people with chronic diseases

J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2021 Nov 15:S1544-3191(21)00474-X. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2021.11.013. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has drastically disrupted primary health care and pharmacy services, posing a challenge in people with chronic diseases who receive routine care. Currently, there exists limited literature on the indirect impact of the pandemic on chronic disease management, particularly related to accessibility to medications and health care resources.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of medical- and medication-related problems reported by people with chronic diseases during the pandemic. The secondary objective was to identify the barriers and contributing factors related to these medical- and medication-related problems.

METHODS: The anonymous and voluntary, Web-based survey was filled out by interested adult respondents with chronic disease(s) across Michigan between September 1, 2020, and January 1, 2021. The primary outcome included self-reported medical- and medication-related problems during the pandemic. Secondary outcomes included potential risk factors for medical- and medication-related problems. Descriptive statistics was used to describe respondents’ demographics, chronic disease characteristics, medication adherence, medical- and medication-related problems, and COVID-19-related factors. The multivariable Firth logistic regression was used to analyze correlations between potential risk factors associated with medical- and medication-related problems.

RESULTS: A total of 1103 respondents completed the survey and were included in the analysis. Approximately, 51% of respondents reported a medication-related problem with 19.6% reported problems obtaining medication(s) and 31.7% reported forgetting or not taking their medication(s). The top reason for problems obtaining medication(s) was doctor’s office being closed for in-person visit(s). In addition, of all responses, more than half reported worsening symptoms of their chronic disease(s) during the pandemic especially with psychiatric disorders (79.5%) and inflammatory bowel disease (60%). Respondents with a significantly higher risk of medication-related problems included those who were younger, were female, and had psychiatric disorder(s), diabetes, arthritis, or lupus, and respondents with a significantly higher risk of medical-related problems included those with multiple chronic diseases, psychiatric disorder(s), and heart failure.

CONCLUSION: Understanding the consequences of the pandemic, such as medical- and medication-related problems, in this population is critical to improving health care accessibility and resources through potential outpatient pharmacy services during this and future pandemics.

PMID:34844885 | DOI:10.1016/j.japh.2021.11.013

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