January 31, 2020

Self-Reported Antiepilepsy Medication Adherence and Its Connection to Perception of Medication Error

Although 70% of people with epilepsy (PWE) achieve seizure freedom following an appropriate antiepileptic drug (AED) regime, evidence suggests that adherence to AEDs by PWE is suboptimal. Nonadherence to AEDs is associated with increased morbidity, mortality, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations, with reduced adherence also correlating to a lower quality of life, decreased productivity, and loss of employment. Furthermore, research indicates that medication errors which are widespread in chronic disease are less well studied in epilepsy but are likely also to contribute to avoidable disease morbidity and mortality.

The goals of this project were to determine rates of medication adherence by self-reported questionnaire and its links to perceived medication error in a cohort of PWE attending a general epilepsy outpatient clinic. Following a plan-do-study-act cycle, it was found that the most appropriate methodology for conducting was in the form of a bespoke 9-item self-administered questionnaire. One hundred eighty-six PWE completed a nine-question questionnaire asking patients about their own medication adherence habits and their perception that they were previously exposed to medication error. This study found that 41% of respondents reported suboptimal adherence to AED therapy, while 28.5% of respondents self-reported that they unintentionally do not take their AED medication on an occasional, regular, or frequent basis.

A 5.9% of respondents self-reported that they intentionally do not take their medication as prescribed. A 6% of respondents self-reported that they are both unintentionally and intentionally nonadherent to their AED therapy. No significant associations were demonstrated between age, sex, perceived effectiveness of medication, feelings of stigma/embarrassment, adverse effects or additional neurological comorbidities, and unintentional or intentional nonadherence. A 28.5% of respondents to the questionnaire reported that they perceived themselves to have been subjected to medication error. Prescribing errors were the most common form of perceived medication error, followed by dispensing errors, then administration errors.

Significant associations were found between ineffective medication and feelings of stigma or embarrassment about epilepsy with perceived prescribing errors. Intentional nonadherence to medication was significantly associated with perceived dispensing errors.