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CVS Caremark: Social networking can help adherence
January 3rd, 2013
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – New research sponsored by CVS Caremark Corp. finds that practical social support, including through online social media, is associated with improved medication adherence.
CVS Caremark said Thursday that the study, titled "Association Between Different Types of Social Support and Medication Adherence," was conducted by researchers at Harvard University, Brigham and Women's Hospital and CVS and was published in the December 2012 issue of the American Journal of Managed Care.
Researchers reviewed 50 peer-reviewed articles about studies that measured the relationship between medication adherence and some form of social support. Four categories of social support for patients were identified and evaluated: structural, practical, emotional and a combination approach. The results indicated that greater practical support was more consistently related to improved adherence to medication, with most studies evaluating practical support (67%) identifying a significant association between the social support and medication adherence.
"While more research is needed to identify how best to apply these findings to patient care, these results suggest that practical support from a patient's social network of family and friends can be a simple and cost-effective way to improve medication adherence and chronic disease management for patients," Troy Brennan, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, said in a statement. Brennan heads the research initiative that conducted the study.
The four categories of social support identified in the research include structural support (marital status, living arrangements and size of the patient's social network), practical support (helping the patients by paying for medications, picking up prescriptions, reading labels, filling pill boxes and providing transportation), emotional support (providing encouragement and reassurance of worth, listening and providing spiritual support) and a combination of support (any mix of the other three support structures).
"The growing popularity of online social networking has raised the question of how social connectedness can impact a person's health and whether it plays any role in improving medication adherence," stated Niteesh Choudhry, associate physician for the division of pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women's Hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. "Our research suggests that leveraging a patient's existing social contacts and networks to help them with the practical aspects of being adherent, such as providing transportation to the pharmacy or picking up medications for the patient, could be both an effective and cost-effective way to help improve adherence."