There is an urgent need to understand the psychological and situational factors that influence medication adherence in individuals with epilepsy. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC, 2010) about 2.5 million people in the United States have epilepsy and one third of them still have seizures despite receiving treatment. With proper medication, an estimated 60-70% of individuals with new onset epilepsy become, and remain, seizure free (Kwan & Brodie, 2000). Despite the success of medical treatment of epilepsy, many patients do not receive these benefits due to inadequate adherence to medication (Meyer et al., 2010). And, as with other chronic medical conditions, estimates suggest that between 30% and 60% of patients with epilepsy are not adherent with their drug regimens (Green & Simons Morton, 1988; Leppik, 1990; Jones et al., 2006). Poor adherence may be the most important cause of poorly controlled epilepsy (Gomes et al., 1998). Stanaway et al. (1985) found that 31% of seizures were precipitated by nonadherence to medication.
Questions regarding adherence are theoretically informed by Fisher et al. (2006)'s Information Motivation Behavioral Skills (IMB) model. While originally developed to describe, predict, and inform interventions for antiretroviral treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), this study applies the model to epilepsy for the first time. In addition, this study intends to produce an accurate description of how individuals with epilepsy manage their medication adherence by identifying current self regulation strategies (immediate adherence behaviors, preparatory behaviors, and barrier management strategies) and their situational determinants. Situational determinants can explain some of the fluctuations in medication adherence. Patients who are motivated to take their medications might still show inconsistent medication adherence. For example, patients might miss good opportunities to take their medication or fail to anticipate unexpected barriers such as a spontaneous dinner with friends or a bout of depression. Therefore, the study will take particular care to investigate situational cues such as good opportunities for adherence (e.g., taking medication with regular meals or before brushing teeth) and expected and unexpected barriers. Preparatory behaviors and their cues are also of interest in this study: Some patients use facilitators (such as physical or electronic reminder systems, electronic pill bottles and pill boxes) to ensure adequate medication adherence. Social support can serve a similar function of reminding patients to take their medication. To address these questions, the investigators plan to explore how individual regulation and social support influence medication adherence in patients with epilepsy. The specific aims of the proposed research are:
- To test the hypothesis that there will be a main effect of information, motivation and behavioral skills, on adherence behavior, and that a mediation model will show that information and motivation effects are partially mediated through behavioral skills.
- To identify self regulation strategies and their situational cues (good opportunities, facilitators, and barriers) for medication adherence among individuals with epilepsy to better describe best practices and challenges.