Ilene Harris co-authored a study in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society that assessed the impact of depression on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) maintenance medication adherence among a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries newly diagnosed with COPD.
Depression is one of the most common conditions that co-occurs with COPD yet is underrecognized and undertreated among individuals with COPD. Although depression has been associated with reduced adherence to medications for other chronic or long-term conditions (referred to as maintenance medications), such as diabetes, little research has assessed the role of depression in COPD medication use and adherence.
Researchers used a random sample of Medicare administrative claims data to identify beneficiaries diagnosed with COPD between 2006 and 2010. This study included beneficiaries with 2 years of continuous Medicare Parts A, B, and D coverage and at least two prescription fills for COPD maintenance medications after COPD diagnosis. Researchers searched for prescription fills for inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting ?-agonists, and long-acting anticholinergics and calculated adherence starting at the first fill.
Researchers found that new episodes of depression decreased adherence to maintenance medications used to manage COPD among older adults. Because of this, clinicians treating older adults with COPD should be aware of the development of depression, especially during the first 6 months after COPD diagnosis. Clinicians should also monitor patients' adherence to prescribed COPD medications to ensure best outcomes are possible.