ABSTRACT: Adherence to a medical treatment means the extent to which a patient follows the instructions or recommendations by health professionals. There are direct and indirect ways to measure adherence which have been used for clinical management and research. Typically adherence measures are monitored over a long follow-up or treatment period, and some measurements may be missing due to death or other reasons. A natural question then is how to describe adherence behavior over the whole period in a simple way. In the literature, measurements over a period are usually combined just by using averages like percentages of compliant days or percentages of doses taken. In the paper we adapt an approach where patient adherence measures are seen as a stochastic process. Repeated measures are then analyzed as a Markov chain with finite number of states rather than as independent and identically distributed observations, and the transition probabilities between the states are assumed to fully describe the behavior of a patient. The patients can then be clustered or classified using their estimated transition probabilities. These natural clusters can be used to describe the adherence of the patients, to find predictors for adherence, and to predict the future events. The new approach is illustrated and shown to be useful with a simple analysis of a data set from the DART (Development of AntiRetroviral Therapy in Africa) trial in Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations 03/2011; 8:3. · 1.58 Impact Factor