4 Research recommendations

The Guideline Development Group has made the following recommendations for research, based on its review of evidence, to improve NICE guidance and patient care in the future. The Guideline Development Group's full set of research recommendations is detailed in the full guideline (see section 5).

4.1 Developing effective, equitable interventions to support adherence to appropriate prescriptions

What are the most clinically effective and cost˗effective methods for identifying and addressing the perceptual barriers (such as beliefs and concerns about medicines) that influence motivation to start and continue with treatment, and the practical barriers (such as limitations in personal capacity and resources) that limit an individual's ability to implement intentions to adhere to medicines?

Why this is important

The Guideline Development Group identified a priority for the systematic development of effective, realisable, efficient and equitable interventions to facilitate informed choice and optimal adherence to appropriately prescribed medicines.

Systematic reviews of adherence interventions show that although adherence can be improved, the effects were generally modest and there is considerable room for improvement. Few previous interventions have been developed systematically using appropriate theoretical models, and they have not been modelled and piloted with assessment of process variables as well as outcomes.

Interventions should be developed using an appropriate theoretical framework with a phased approach to testing that includes assessment of process (that is, the things that are targeted for change) as well as outcomes and a need for an individual approach[3].

4.2 Informed choice and shared decision-making

What are the most clinically effective and cost˗effective ways of communicating the potential benefits and risks of medicines to promote informed choice and optimal adherence?

Why this is important

The principles of informed choice and shared decision˗making have largely been developed from theoretical and conceptual models. The competencies listed for shared decision-making consist of a number of different skills, and patients have shown that they may value different aspects of shared decision˗making. Although the right of patients to be involved in decision˗making in regard to their own healthcare is accepted, the practice of shared decision-making may mean that healthcare professionals and patients play different roles than they have to date in healthcare consultations. This may have implications for legal and professional responsibility and accountability. Patients and professionals enter decision˗making with very different levels of knowledge and access to information. Improving patient knowledge and information may require structural changes to health services and their delivery. Patient˗reported outcomes also need to be included.

4.3 Support processes: prescribing˗related consultations and medicines review

How can practitioners and patients be supported to improve the quality of prescribing-related consultations and medicines reviews so that they facilitate informed choice and optimal adherence to medicines?

What are the effects of medicines reviews by healthcare professionals other than the prescriber on patients, prescribers and outcomes? How can the process of medicines review be enhanced or improved to address issues of informed choice and adherence?

Why this is important

Non˗adherence is often a hidden problem. Many patients are reluctant to express doubts and concerns about medicines because they fear that it will displease the healthcare professional. We need better methods for overcoming this problem and promoting honest and open discussions about medicines and adherence.

There are an increasing number of non˗medical prescribers (such as pharmacists and nurses) This is a key context issue and there are a range of questions relating to patient perspectives on new prescribers and to new and existing prescribers' perceptions and skills. The effects of new prescribers on patient adherence to medicines should be included in any studies designed to evaluate new prescribers. The inclusion of formal procedures for medicines review within the Pharmacy Contract in England provides an opportunity for improved support for patients. We need a better understanding of the effects of non˗prescriber reviews on medicines usage and outcomes, and how reviews might be improved to benefit patients and society.

[3] Campbell NC, Murray E, Darbyshire J et al. (2007) Designing and evaluating complex interventions to improve health care. BMJ 334: 455–9.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)