Background: Research on adherence interventions in rheumatology is limited by methodological issues, particularly heterogeneous outcomes. We aimed to describe researchers’ experiences with conducting interventional studies targeting medication adherence in rheumatology and their perspectives on establishing core outcomes.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews using audio conference were conducted with researchers who had conducted an adherence study of any design in the past 10 years. Data collection and thematic analysis were performed iteratively, until saturation.
Results: We interviewed 13 researchers, most of whom worked in academia and specialized in epidemiology and/or health services research. We identified three themes: 1) improving measurement of adherence (considering all phases of adherence, using appropriate and relevant measures, and establishing clinically meaningful thresholds); 2) challenges in designing and appraising adherence intervention studies (considering the confusion over a plethora of outcomes, difficulties with powering studies to demonstrate meaningful changes, and suboptimal descriptions of adherence interventions in published studies); and 3) advancing outcome assessment in adherence intervention studies (capturing rationale for developing a core domain set as well as recommendations and anticipated challenges by participants).
Conclusions: Uniquely gathering perspectives from international adherence researchers, our findings led to researcher-informed recommendations for improving adherence research including specifying the targeted adherence phase in designing interventions and studies and providing a glossary of terms to promote consistency in reporting. We also identified recommendations for developing a core domain set for interventional studies targeting medication adherence including involvement of patients, clinicians, and other stakeholders and methodological and practical considerations to establish rigor and support uptake.