Assessment of symptom burden and adherence to respiratory medications in individuals self-reporting a diagnosis of COPD within a community pharmacy setting

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Journal of the American Pharmacists Association


Objectives: Data on symptom burden or medication adherence in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) within a community pharmacy setting are limited. This study assessed symptom burden and adherence to respiratory medications in individuals reporting COPD, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema diagnoses visiting community pharmacies. Design: This cross-sectional study enrolled participants visiting 35 community pharmacies in Missouri (October 2016 to April 2017). Participants: Eligible participants (aged 40 years or more with a self-reported history of COPD, prescription for at least 1 COPD maintenance medication during the previous 12 months, and able to complete an English questionnaire) were identified from pharmacy dispensing records. Main outcome measures: Participants completed a questionnaire assessing demographics, clinical characteristics, health literacy, COPD Assessment Test (CAT) modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) dyspnea scale scores, and exacerbation history. Recent spirometry data were obtained, if available, from participants’ physicians. COPD was classified according to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) 2016 criteria. Medication adherence was assessed as proportion of days covered (PDC) from dispensing records. Results: Of 682 participants (mean age 63.0 years; 57% female) with available pharmacy data, 251 (36.8%) had available spirometry data. Most participants had mMRC scores ≥ 2 (60.9%) and CAT scores ≥ 10 (90.2%); 57.2% reported at least 2 moderate or 1 or more severe exacerbations within the previous 12 months. GOLD classifications varied depending on the scale used (mMRC vs. CAT); more participants were classified as group C/D than group A/B, with the highest proportion classified as group D (higher symptom burden and exacerbation risk). Mean PDC was 0.46 ± 0.37; only 28.7% of participants were adherent (PDC ≥ 80%) to at least 1 COPD maintenance medication. Conclusion: Individuals self-reporting a COPD diagnosis receiving respiratory medications from community pharmacies in Missouri have a high symptom burden and low medication adherence. Further research should determine reasons for low adherence and ways to reduce COPD symptoms.

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