Medication adherence, ethnicity, and the influence of multiple psychosocial and financial barriers

John E. Zeber, Alexander L. Miller, Laurel A. Copeland, John F. McCarthy, Kara Zivin, Marcia Valenstein, Devra Greenwald, Amy M. Kilbourne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Medication adherence is critical for patients with bipolar disorder to avoid symptom exacerbation and diminished quality of life. Most analyses consider adherence barriers individually rather than conjointly, while neglecting potential ethnic differences. 435 patients in the Continuous Improvement for Veterans in Care-Mood Disorders study reported multiple financial and psychosocial factors influencing adherence. Logistic regression modeled adherence as a function of perceived barriers, including cost burden, access, binge drinking, poor therapeutic alliance, and medication beliefs. Nearly half the cohort experienced adherence difficulty, averaging 2.8 barriers, with minority veterans reporting lower adherence than white patients, particularly financial burden and treatment access. Total barriers were significantly associated with worse adherence (OR = 1.24 per barrier), notably poor medication beliefs, binge drinking, and difficulty accessing psychiatric specialists (ORs of 2.41, 1.95 and 1.73, respectively). Veterans with bipolar disorder experience numerous adherence barriers, with certain obstacles proving especially pernicious. Fortunately tailored clinical interventions can improve adherence, particularly by addressing modifiable risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-95
Number of pages10
JournalAdministration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Ethnicity
  • Medication adherence
  • Psychosocial barriers
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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