Introduction Inhaler adherence in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a crucial component of disease management with studies reporting relationships with both morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to identify determinants of inhaler adherence.
Methods Over a 3-year period data was collected on 265 patients with COPD whose inhaler adherence was monitored for one month. Data on personal factors (i.e., cognition, anxiety and depression), disease severity and socioeconomic factors was collected. In addition, after one month of recruitment, information on exacerbations, re-admissions, quality of life, symptoms, self-reported adherence, beliefs in medicines and psychological status were collected. Inhaler adherence was calculated as a combination of timing of use, interval between doses and technique of use (Actual Adherence).
Results At one month, patients who reported worse breathlessness (5 on the MRC Dyspnoea Scale) had worse Actual Adherence (p = 0.03). Interestingly, patients who had an exacerbation of their COPD within the month after recruitment had significantly lower Actual Adherence than those that didn’t (p = 0.01). In addition, patients with poorer cognition (p = 0.02), poorer cough PEFR (p < 0.01) and more severe COPD (GOLD Stage IV, p = 0.05) had worse Actual Adherence.
Conclusion In the large observational study of severe COPD patients, poor inhaler adherence was associated with worse symptoms, poorer cognition, more severe COPD and more exacerbations. This has significant implications for the long-term treatment of this patient population and may guide future interventions.