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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

Determinants of adherence to disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs in White British and South Asian patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a cross sectional study

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Kanta Kumar, Karim Raza, Peter Nightingale, Robert Horne, Sarah Chapman, Sheila Greenfield, Paramjit Gill
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

KK, KR, PG, and SG, conceived the idea of the study. KK conducted the study. KK, PN, SC analysed the data. The initial draft of the manuscript was prepared by KK and all authors (KR, PN, SG, PG, SC and RH) commented for critical revision and approved the final version. KK is the guarantor of this paper. Primary Care Clinical Sciences, University of Birmingham is a member of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.



Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common chronic inflammatory disease causing joint damage, disability, and reduced life expectancy. Highly effective drugs are now available for the treatment of RA. However, poor adherence to drug regimens remains a significant barrier to improving clinical outcomes in RA. Poor adherence has been shown to be linked to patients’ beliefs about medicines with a potential impact on adherence. These beliefs are reported to be different between ethnic groups. The purpose of this study was to identify potential determinants of adherence to disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) including an assessment of the influence of beliefs about medicines and satisfaction with information provided about DMARDs and compare determinants of adherence between RA patients of White British and South Asian.


RA patients of either White British (n = 91) or South Asian (n = 89) origin were recruited from secondary care. Data were collected via questionnaires on patients’: (1) self-reported adherence (Medication Adherence Report Scale-MARS); (2) beliefs about medicines (Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire-BMQ); (3) illness perceptions (Illness Perceptions Questionnaire-IPQ) and (4) satisfaction with information about DMARDs (Satisfaction with Information about Medicines questionnaire-SIMS). In addition, clinical and demographic data were collected.


The results revealed that socio-demographic factors only explained a small amount of variance in adherence whereas illness representations and treatment beliefs were more substantial in explaining non-adherence to DMARDs. Patients’ self-reported adherence was higher in White British than South Asian patients (median 28 (interquartile range 26–30) vs median 26 (interquartile range 23–30) respectively; P = 0.013, Mann–Whitney test). Patients who reported lower adherence were more dissatisfied with the information they had received about their DMARDs (P < 0.001, Spearman correlation, SIMS action and usage subscale; P < 0.001, Spearman correlation, SIMS potential problems subscale) and had more negative beliefs about their DMARDs and were related to ethnicity with South Asian patients having more negative views about medicines.


Socio-demographic factors were found to explain a small amount of variance in adherence. Illness representations and treatment beliefs were more important in explaining non-adherence to DMARDs. Clinicians managing South Asian patients with RA need to be aware that low adherence may be linked to negative beliefs about medicines and illness representations of RA.
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