Patient Priorities for Medication Management Strategies for Serious Mental Illnesses

Close up of unrecognizable senior person taking aspirin with glass of water.
Researchers conducted web-based focus groups to better understand patient preferences for medication management of a serious mental illness.

The following article is a part of conference coverage from Psych Congress 2021 , held October 29th through November 1, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas. The team at Psychiatry Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts in psychiatry. Check back for more from the Psych Congress 2021.


Individuals with serious mental disorders desire medication management strategies that fit into everyday life and help them manage medications independently, according to research recently presented at Psych Congress 2021, held from October 29 through November 1, in San Antonio, Texas.

This study included 28 individuals (50% women, mean age 38 years, 43% White) with serious mental illnesses, including bipolar I disorder, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder. At the time of the study, all participants were undergoing treatment with an oral antipsychotic medication. The study cohort participated in 6 web-based focus groups, and results were analyzed thematically from transcripts.

Participants identified the following barriers to medication adherence: internalized stigma, forgetfulness, and symptoms like depressive episodes. Additional barriers included general forgetfulness and disruptions to their daily routines. Most used medication management tools such as pill organizers and/or other reminders to make medication intake a part of their daily routines, which they regarded as crucial. While some found digital tools for medication management useful, others reported concerns about the intrusion of technology into their lives, the potential for overcomplicating the task, and data privacy. Participants found the most practical elements of medication management tools to be automatic reminders, ease of use, and the ability to track symptoms like mood over time. Other factors contributing to medication adherence included having a structured daily routine and support from family members and their care teams, as well as understanding how medication helps to manage their mental illness.

The study authors conclude that “integrating a routine for taking medication into their daily schedules [is] crucial to adherence.” Additional research is necessary to “quantify patient preferences for medication-adherence measurement tools in [serious mental illness].”

Disclosure: This clinical trial was supported by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc. Please see the original reference for a complete list of authors’ disclosures.


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Birch K, Boskovic DH, May S, Roach M. Medication adherence among patients with serious mental illnesses: facilitators, barriers, and preferences for managing medication intake. Presented at: Psych Congress 2021; October 29-November 1, 2021; San Antonio, Texas. Poster 13.