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Effect of interactive eHealth interventions on improving medication adherence in adults with long-term medication: systematic review.

Pouls, B.P.H., Vriezekolk, J.E., Bekker, C.L., Linn, A.J., Onzenoort, H.A.W. van, Vervloet, M., Dulmen, S. van, Bemt, B.J.F. van den. Effect of interactive eHealth interventions on improving medication adherence in adults with long-term medication: systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research: 2021, 23(1), e18901
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The aim of this systematic review is twofold: (1) to evaluate effectiveness of recently developed and tested interactive eHealth (including mHealth) interventions on medication adherence in adult patients using long-term medication and (2) to describe strategies among effective interventions.

MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, and Web of Science were systematically searched from January 2014 to July 2019 as well as reference lists and citations of included articles. Eligible studies fulfilled the following inclusion criteria: (1) randomized controlled trial with a usual care control group; (2) a total sample size of at least 50 adult patients using long-term medication; (3) applying an interactive eHealth intervention aimed at the patient or patient’s caregiver; and (4) medication adherence as primary outcome. Methodologic quality was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Selection and quality assessment of studies were performed by 2 researchers (BP and BvdB or JV) independently. A best evidence synthesis was performed according to the Cochrane Back Review Group.

Of the 9047 records screened, 22 randomized clinical trials were included reporting on 29 interventions. Most (21/29, 72%) interventions specified using a (mobile) phone for calling, SMS text messaging, or mobile apps. A majority of all interactive interventions (17/29) had a statistically significant effect on medication adherence (P<.05). Of these interventions, 9 had at least a small effect size (Cohen d ≥ 0.2) and 3 showed strong odds for becoming adherent in the intervention group (odds ratio > 2.0). Our best evidence synthesis provided strong evidence for a positive effect of interventions using SMS text messages or interactive voice response, mobile app, and calls as mode of providing adherence tele-feedback. Intervention strategies “to teach medication management skills,” “to improve health care quality by coordinating medication adherence care between professionals,” and “to facilitate communication or decision making between patients and health care providers” also showed strong evidence for a positive effect.

Overall, this review supports the hypothesis that interactive eHealth interventions can be effective in improving medication adherence. Intervention strategies that improve patients’ treatment involvement and their medication management skills are most promising and should be considered for implementation in practice.