Breast cancer oral anti-cancer medication adherence: a systematic review of psychosocial motivators and barriers.

Thumbnail Image




Lin, Cheryl
Clark, Rachel
Tu, Pikuei
Bosworth, Hayden B
Zullig, Leah L

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats



In the past decade, there has been an increase in the development and use of oral anti-cancer medications (OAMs), especially for breast cancer-the most prevalent cancer in women. However, adherence rates for OAMs are often suboptimal, leading to lower survival rate, increased risk of recurrence, and higher healthcare costs. Our goal was to identify potentially modifiable psychosocial facilitators and barriers that may be targeted to increase OAM adherence for breast cancer patients.


We systematically searched PubMed for studies published in the U.S. by June 15, 2016 that addressed the following: (1) OAMs for breast cancer; (2) medication adherence; and (3) at least one psychosocial aspect of adherence.


Of the 1752 papers screened, 21 articles were included and analyzed. The most commonly reported motivators for adherence are patient-provider relationships (n = 11 studied, 82% reported significant association) and positive views and beliefs of medication (n = 9 studied, 89% reported significant association). We also identified consistent evidence of the impact of depression and emotions, perception of illness, concern of side effects, self-efficacy in medication management and decision making, knowledge of medication, and social support on OAM adherence.


Compared to traditional demographic, system, and clinical-related factors that have been well documented in the literature but are not easily changed, these cognitive, psychological, and interpersonal factors are more amendable via intervention and therefore could generate greater benefit in improving patient compliance and health outcomes. As OAMs shift treatment administration responsibility onto patients, continuous provider communication and education on illness and regimen are the keys to supporting patients' medication behavior.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Lin, Cheryl, Rachel Clark, Pikuei Tu, Hayden B Bosworth and Leah L Zullig (2017). Breast cancer oral anti-cancer medication adherence: a systematic review of psychosocial motivators and barriers. Breast cancer research and treatment, 165(2). pp. 247–260. 10.1007/s10549-017-4317-2 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Hayden Barry Bosworth

Professor in Population Health Sciences

Dr. Bosworth is a health services researcher and Deputy Director of the Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT)  at the Durham VA Medical Center. He is also Vice Chair of Education and Professor of Population Health Sciences. He is also a Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Nursing at Duke University Medical Center and Adjunct Professor in Health Policy and Administration at the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research interests comprise three overarching areas of research: 1) clinical research that provides knowledge for improving patients’ treatment adherence and self-management in chronic care; 2) translation research to improve access to quality of care; and 3) eliminate health care disparities. 

Dr. Bosworth is the recipient of an American Heart Association established investigator award, the 2013 VA Undersecretary Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research (The annual award is the highest honor for VA health services researchers), and a VA Senior Career Scientist Award. In terms of self-management, Dr. Bosworth has expertise developing interventions to improve health behaviors related to hypertension, coronary artery disease, and depression, and has been developing and implementing tailored patient interventions to reduce the burden of other chronic diseases. These trials focus on motivating individuals to initiate health behaviors and sustaining them long term and use members of the healthcare team, particularly pharmacists and nurses. He has been the Principal Investigator of over 30 trials resulting in over 400 peer reviewed publications and four books. This work has been or is being implemented in multiple arenas including Medicaid of North Carolina, private payers, The United Kingdom National Health System Direct, Kaiser Health care system, and the Veterans Affairs.

Areas of Expertise: Health Behavior, Health Services Research, Implementation Science, Health Measurement, and Health Policy


Leah L Zullig

Professor in Population Health Sciences

Leah L. Zullig, PhD, MPH is a health services researcher and an implementation scientist. She is a Professor in the Duke Department of Population Health Sciences and an investigator with the Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT) at the Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Dr. Zullig’s overarching research interests address three domains: improving cancer care delivery and quality; promoting cancer survivorship and chronic disease management; and improving medication adherence. Throughout these three area of foci Dr. Zullig uses an implementation science lens with the goal of providing equitable care for all by implementing evidence-based practices in a variety of health care environments. She has authored over 150 peer-reviewed publications. 

Dr. Zullig completed her BS in Health Promotion, her MPH in Public Health Administration, and her PhD in Health Policy.

Areas of expertise: Implementation Science, Health Measurement, Health Policy, Health Behavior, Telehealth, and Health Services Research

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.