Study Two: Treatment Adherence Barriers
Your doctor has likely told you that it’s best to take your medication as prescribed. But in the real world, there are barriers that can prevent you from doing so. How do you reduce those barriers so that your medication has optimal results? That was the focus of our second JMIR study entitled “Use of an Online Community to Develop Patient-Reported Outcome Instruments: The Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Adherence Questionnaire (MS-TAQ).”
This investigation was carried out with our partner Novartis, and it addresses a problem that many of you in our MS Community have struggled with over the years: the barriers to being adherent to your injected or infused disease-modifying therapies (DMT). By combining a review of the scientific literature with a systematic search through MS forum conversations, we first worked to identify the full spectrum of issues that stop patients like you from taking your treatments on time as prescribed by your neurologist.
Then, we used this information to construct a rating scale called the MS Treatment Adherence Questionnaire (MSTAQ), which MS patients like you can use to quantify how many doses you’ve missed in the previous 28 days and identify and measure the barriers that kept you from being fully adherent. You can download a copy of the MSTAQ here.
Significant differences in missed dose ratio for patients who reported missing a
dose in the past 28 days; 0.00 = fully adherent, 1.00 = missed every prescribed dose
The scientific literature was already well aware of issues such as forgetting to take a single dose or taking a “drug holiday” to avoid side effects, but the comments of patients like you in our MS forum highlighted some other significant influences. For instance, you have been sharing tips and tricks with one another for minimizing injection site reactions (e.g. using ice cubes), so we added a new section to the scale that asks you how many coping strategies you’ve used.
In doing so, we discovered that your score on the MSTAQ was positively correlated with how many doses of your treatment you missed that month. But intriguingly, the number of coping strategies you used was negatively correlated. In other words, the more coping strategies you use, the better you are at being adherent to your treatment. By publishing these findings in an open-access journal and sharing this rating scale with the research community, we hope to help patients like you understand what’s driving your adherence in partnership with your physician.
As always, we are grateful to you, our fantastic patients, as your sharing makes these discoveries possible. Your data (and even your words in the forum) are truly advancing the field of medicine and empowering other patients like you to live their best lives.