An Adaptable Framework for Factors Contributing to Medication Adherence: Results from a Systematic Review of 102 Conceptual Frameworks.



To summarize the available conceptual models for factors contributing to medication adherence based on the World Health Organization (WHO)'s five dimensions of medication adherence via a systematic review, identify the patient groups described in available conceptual models, and present an adaptable conceptual model that describes the factors contributing to medication adherence in the identified patient groups.


We searched PubMed®, Embase®, CINAHL®, and PsycINFO® for English language articles published from inception until 31 March 2020. Full-text original publications in English that presented theoretical or conceptual models for factors contributing to medication adherence were included. Studies that presented statistical models were excluded. Two authors independently extracted the data.


We identified 102 conceptual models, and classified the factors contributing to medication adherence using the WHO's five dimensions of medication adherence, namely patient-related, medication-related, condition-related, healthcare system/healthcare provider-related, and socioeconomic factors. Eight patient groups were identified based on age and disease condition. The most universally addressed factors were patient-related factors. Medication-related, condition-related, healthcare system-related, and socioeconomic factors were represented to various extents depending on the patient group. By systematically examining how the WHO's five dimensions of medication adherence were applied differently across the eight different patient groups, we present a conceptual model that can be adapted to summarize the common factors contributing to medication adherence in different patient groups.


Our conceptual models can be utilized as a guide for clinicians and researchers in identifying the facilitators and barriers to medication adherence and developing future interventions to improve medication adherence.

Protocol registration

PROSPERO Identifier: CRD42020181316.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Peh, Kai Qi Elizabeth, Yu Heng Kwan, Hendra Goh, Hasna Ramchandani, Jie Kie Phang, Zhui Ying Lim, Dionne Hui Fang Loh, Truls Østbye, et al. (2021). An Adaptable Framework for Factors Contributing to Medication Adherence: Results from a Systematic Review of 102 Conceptual Frameworks. Journal of general internal medicine, 36(9). pp. 2784–2795. 10.1007/s11606-021-06648-1 Retrieved from

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Daniel Blalock

Associate Consulting Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

I am a behavioral health researcher with a background in Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychology.  My research interests include broad processes of behavior change and self-regulation as well as psychometric measurement and research methods/statistics.  My specific research endeavors include 1) the measurement and behavior change applicability of constructs related to self-control, 2) measurement and interventions to improve self-regulatory health behaviors including medication adherence and substance use, and 3) measure development and psychometrics as related to self-reported and patient-reported outcomes.


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

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