Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 
  Users Online: 328 Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size  

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 102-109  

Adherence to oral hypoglycemic drugs among type 2 diabetic patients in a resource-poor setting

1 Department of Pharmacy, Keta Municipal Hospital, Ghana Health Service, Keta, Ghana
2 Department of Pharmacy, Ho Municipal Hospital, Ghana Health Service, Ho, Accra, Ghana
3 Department of Pharmacy, Ghana Police Hospital, Accra, Ghana
4 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

Date of Submission10-Aug-2019
Date of Decision02-Oct-2019
Date of Acceptance10-Jan-2020
Date of Web Publication3-Apr-2020

Correspondence Address:
Israel Abebrese Sefah
Department of Pharmacy, Keta Municipal Hospital, Ghana Health Service, Keta
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijabmr.IJABMR_270_19

Rights and Permissions

Objective: Diabetes mellitus is a growing public health problem in many countries including Ghana. Adherence to drugs, especially among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is often poor is some resource-poor settings. The objective of this study was to assess adherence to oral hypoglycemic drugs and factors that affect adherence among patients with T2DM in the Volta Region of Ghana. Methods: The study was cross-sectional and conducted among 400 patients with T2DM attending diabetic clinics at 4 randomly selected hospitals in the Volta Region of Ghana between January 10 and March 30, 2015. Patients were interviewed using a structured questionnaire and other data collection tools to determine the commonest self-reported reason(s) for nonadherence. Adherence was assessed using the 8-item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale. Multivariate analysis was performed between adherence and statistically significant patient variables. Results: Adherence to oral hypoglycemic drugs among T2DM patients was 47.75%. The odds of adherence with fasting blood glucose between 1 and 6 mmol/L was approximately two-fold (adjusted odd ratio [aOR] =1.92, confidence interval [CI]: 1.11–3.32) versus the odds of having fasting blood glucose of above 10 mmol/L. The odds of adherence among patients with tertiary education was approximately three-fold (aOR = 3.01 CI: 1.44–6.269) versus patients with no formal education. The commonest self-reported reason for nonadherence was forgetfulness. Conclusion: Adherence to oral hypoglycemic drugs among T2DM patients in the current study was sub-optimal. Therefore, in such settings, management of T2DM must include strategies to identify nonadherent patients, and regular patient education and counseling.

Keywords: Adherence, oral hypoglycemic drugs, resource-poor setting, type 2 diabetes mellitus

How to cite this article:
Sefah IA, Okotah A, Afriyie DK, Amponsah SK. Adherence to oral hypoglycemic drugs among type 2 diabetic patients in a resource-poor setting. Int J App Basic Med Res 2020;10:102-9

How to cite this URL:
Sefah IA, Okotah A, Afriyie DK, Amponsah SK. Adherence to oral hypoglycemic drugs among type 2 diabetic patients in a resource-poor setting. Int J App Basic Med Res [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Jan 27];10:102-9. Available from: https://www.ijabmr.org/text.asp?2020/10/2/102/281836

   Introduction Top

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disorder characterized by impaired insulin-mediated glucose disposal as a result of absence of insulin, or the inability of the human body to respond to insulin.[1] DM is ranked as the seventh leading cause of death worldwide.[2],[3] DM, if left untreated or poorly controlled, is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. This is mostly due to macrovascular and microvascular complications associated with the disease.[4],[5] DM is also known to adversely affect the quality of life of patients.[6],[7] DM is a growing problem in sub-Saharan Africa, as there has been an appreciable change in diet and lifestyle of indigenes, Ghana inclusive.[8],[9],[10] In Ghana, the prevalence of DM according to International Diabetes Federation data as of 2013 was 3.35%.[11] Furthermore, the prevalence of especially type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in African countries appears to be on the rise.[12]

Management of DM includes pharmacotherapy. Some of the pharmacotherapeutic approaches include the use of oral hypoglycemic (antidiabetic) drugs, exogenous insulins, and lipid lowering drugs.[13] A major challenge to the management of DM is nonadherence to therapy. This is highly prevalent in patients with T2DM, and has been linked with an increase in morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs.[14],[15],[16] On the average, 50% of new medication users will fail to adhere to at least 80% of prescribed drugs during the first year of therapy.[17],[18] A systematic review of drugs for DM found that patients adherence ranged between 36% and 93%,[14] with some being as low as 23%.[19] Overall, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates adherence among patients suffering from chronic diseases to be around 50% in developed countries, and much lower in developing or resource-poor countries.[20] Studies have also shown that, there is an association between poor adherence to medications indicated for chronic diseases and health resource utilization.[21]

There have been several studies which have explored adherence to oral hypoglycemic medications among diabetic patients with varying results. Some factors found to be associated with nonadherence to oral hypoglycemic medication include financial difficulties, forgetfulness, level of education of patients, existing diabetes complications, among others.[16],[17],[19] One major impact of nonadherence to antidiabetic medications is increased costs to families especially in most African countries where healthcare costs are borne by patients.[16] In Ghana, there is paucity of data on adherence to diabetic treatment especially in rural areas where the population is generally poor, and with less access to health care. Furthermore, most of adherence to oral hypoglycemic drugs among T2DM patients have been carried out in developed countries, leaving a gap in knowledge about the prevalence and factors that may be associated with adherence to diabetes treatment in resource-poor settings.

This study, therefore, sought to evaluate adherence to oral hypoglycemic agents among T2DM patients in the Volta Region of Ghana, and possible impact on glycemic control. Data from this study would inform policymakers, health managers, and health workers: with a future need of designing interventions that will improve patient adherence.

   Methods Top

Study design and setting

This was a cross-sectional study among T2DM patients who reported to 4 district/municipal hospitals in the Volta Region of Ghana between January 10, 2015, and March 30, 2015. The study was conducted in Government Hospitals which operated diabetic clinics. The 4 hospitals were Ho Municipal Hospital and Hohoe Municipal Hospital (representing Northern Volta), and Keta Municipal Hospital and Ketu South District Hospital (representing Southern Volta).

Volta Region of Ghana (as it was called before the creation of new regions in Ghana in February 2019), could be divided into two geographical sectors: Northern and Southern Volta. Volta Region was one of Ghana's ten administrative regions. The region's capital was Ho and had an estimated regional area of 20,570 km2. The population of the Region as of the year 2000 was 1,635,421. In the 2010 population census, a population of 2,118,252 was reported, and this represented 8.6% of the total population of Ghana.

Sampling and sample size calculation

Prevalence of nonadherence to oral anti-diabetic therapy among adults was estimated as 40% based on a similar study conducted in ambulatory patients with T2DM in a healthcare setting in Southwestern Nigeria.[22] The level of significance and margin of error were set as 0.05% and 5% respectively. This gave a minimum sample size of 368. The sample size was increased to 400 to account for 10% nonrespondents.

Study population

T2DM patients were included in this study if they were aged 18 years and above after initially giving informed consent. Patients were randomly sampled from Ho Municipal Hospital (n = 200), Keta Municipal Hospital (n = 100), Hohoe Municipal Hospital (n = 50) and Ketu South Municipal Hospital (n = 50). Differences in sample size per hospital were based on respective average total attendance per month per hospital. Patients who did not consent to be part of the study were excluded.

Data collection

Questionnaires were administered by trained pharmacists and pharmacist technicians in all the 4 study centers. Data collected included social demographics, adherence to oral hypoglycemic agents and clinical parameters (obtained from hospital records). Clinical parameters included comorbidity (whether patients had hypertension, etc.) or complications of T2DM (e.g., neuropathy). The questionnaire used, the 8-item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS-8) consisted of 7 dichotomous questions and a 5-point Likert scale questions. Questionnaires were pretested among 10 T2DM patients (at Ho Municipal Hospital).

To ensure privacy, respondents were individually interviewed in counseling rooms at all 4 study sites. Patients were also assured of confidentiality before interview process.

Data analysis

Data generated from the questionnaires were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA) version 21 software. Descriptive statistical analysis was used for demographic data. For level of adherence, patients were classified as adherent if the MMAS-8 score obtained was between 6 and 8, and nonadherent if the MMAS-8 score obtained was <6.[23]

Cross-tabulation was subsequently performed to assess relationship between socio-demographic characteristics, as well as clinical characteristics and adherence score of patients. A multivariate analysis was subsequently done to predict adherence in statistically significant independent variables obtained after cross-tabulation. This was done by determining odd ratios at a 95% confidence interval (CI).

Ethical issues

The study was approved by Administrations of selected government hospitals under the Ghana Health Service. Written informed consent was obtained from all study participants. Data were kept securely locked at all times and was only accessible to researchers.

   Results Top

Sociodemographic characteristics of patients

Of the 400 patients interviewed, about two-third were females and about 50% middle-aged (41–60 years). More than half of the respondents were married, and most had some form of formal education (with approximately one-third having had a middle school/junior high school education). The majority of interviewed patients were employed: with about 50% being self-employed and about 25% being unemployed. A summary of demographic data of respondents is shown in [Table 1]a. Almost all of the patients (99.3%) were National Health Insurance Scheme holders. About 80% of the patients had no social history of taking neither alcohol nor smoking. Other sociodemographic information are shown in [Table 1]b.

Click here to view

Clinical characteristics of patients

Clinical data showed that about 40% of T2DM patients were on oral hypoglycemic agents for about 3–6. Only about 12% of the patients had been on oral hypoglycemic agents for more than 10 years. Hypertension was the commonest (63.7%) co-morbid condition among patients, whilst the presence of diabetic neuropathy (4.5%) resulted in an increase in the total number of oral drugs to be taken by patients. About seven out of ten patients had their medications prescribed for just 1 month duration after hospital visit. In addition, about half of the patients (n = 209; 52.3%) recorded a MMAS-8 score of <6 and hence were classified as nonadherent to their treatment regimen. A summary of clinical characteristics of respondents is shown in [Table 2]a. Additional clinical characteristics of respondents is shown in [Table 2]b. Furthermore, fasting blood glucose level of patients on day of interview is also shown in [Table 3].

Click here to view
Table 3: Fasting blood glucose level of respondents taken on day of interviews (n=400)

Click here to view

The commonest self-reported reason for nonadherence was forgetfulness (30.87%), followed by a combination of forgetfulness and the side effects of the medication. A summary of reasons for nonadherence is shown in [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Self-reported reasons for nonadherence to oral hypoglycemic agents among respondents (n = 400)

Click here to view

Multivariate analysis between adherence and selected characteristics of respondents

Cross-tabulation of independent variables against adherence gave statistically significant association (P < 0.05) with a number of variables. The variables were: number of years patients had been on their oral hypoglycemic medicines, alcohol/smoking social history status, educational status, fasting blood glucose on the day of interview, and the number of oral hypoglycemic drugs prescribed.

However, multivariate logistic regression controlling for all variables as possible confounders found that alcohol, smoking, and number of years patients were on their oral hypoglycemic agents did not retain their statistical significance [Table 4]. The variables that retained their significance after the multivariate analysis were the fasting blood glucose level recorded on the day of interview, educational status and the number of oral hypoglycemic agents prescribed but unavailable (out of stock) at the pharmacy. The multivariate analysis also revealed that, the odds of adherence was approximately 2-fold in respondents with fasting blood glucose of between 1 and 6 mmol/L as compared to those with fasting blood glucose >10 mmol/L (adjusted odd ratio [aOR] =1.92, CI: 1.11–3.319). The aOR obtained was also statistically significant with P < 0.05 and a narrow CI.
Table 4: Predictors of adherence to oral hypoglycemic agents from logistic regression modela

Click here to view

Furthermore, patients who did not receive all their prescribed medication at their facility had relatively higher odds of adherence [Table 4]. Patients who had at least one drug prescribed but not dispensed had approximately two-fold odds of adherence (odd ratio = 1.99, CI: 1.19–3.33).

The multivariate analysis also showed that educational status had statistically significant association with adherence. From the bivariate analysis, respondents who had middle school/junior high education had approximately two-fold odds of increased adherence compared to those with no formal education, but the ratio reduced after adjusting for confounders. The odds of adherence among tertiary education respondents was approximately three-fold (aOR = 2.888, CI: 1.394–5.982) compared to those with no formal education, and this value was similar to the crude odds ratio indicating the absence of confounding effect.

   Discussion Top

In this study, we assessed adherence and factors that affect adherence among T2DM patients on oral hypoglycemic agents in the Volta Region of Ghana. Our data showed that adherence to oral hypoglycemic agents among our study population was 47.7%. This percentage is similar to overall adherence rates reported by the WHO for patients with chronic conditions.[20] Adherence to oral hypoglycemic agents in the current study was similar to a 6-month cross-sectional study conducted among 7 primary clinics in Malaysia.[24] However, our finding was marginally lower than the 51.3% observed in a similar study conducted in Ethiopia,[25] but higher than a 40.1% reported in Nigeria.[26] The differences observed could be due to differences in study settings and adherence scales used. It is noteworthy that, self-reported measurement of adherence has the tendency of overestimating adherence. Since interviews were conducted in a healthcare facility, patients may tend to report higher levels of adherence in order to please healthcare provider or to avoid criticism.

In the current study, variables that retained their significance after the multivariate analysis were educational status, fasting blood glucose level recorded on the day of interview and the number of oral hypoglycemic agents prescribed but not dispensed at the pharmacy of visited clinic. Generally, level of adherence to drugs is known to increase with increasing level of education.[24],[25],[26] An important barrier to adherence is the inability of a patient to understand instructions for taking medication. Patients' beliefs are also known to be a strong predictor of adherence. Whilst we did not investigate this in our study, we believe that education has the tendency to positively influence ones beliefs.

In the current study, adherence was higher in patients with fasting blood glucose level between 1 and 6 mmol/L. This is similar to findings from a systematic review which concluded that better adherence to oral hypoglycemic agents tended to be associated with improved glycemic control.[27] Data from the current study showed that only 30% of the respondents had adequate glycemic control (1–6 mmol/L). It is noteworthy that lack of appropriate therapy may be one of the reasons patients fail to reach recommended therapeutic targets, hence, the need for continuous patient follow-up and drug regimen modification, if need be.

Data from current study showed that forgetfulness was the highest self-reported reason for nonadherence to oral hypoglycemic agents. The second highest self-reported reason for non-adherence was a combination of forgetfulness and side-effects of medication. This is consistent with findings in other studies that reported forgetfulness as the main reason for nonadherence to therapy.[28] Whilst lack of oral hypoglycemic agents in stock was reported as a key barrier for adherence to oral hypoglycemic agents,[28] our study showed that patients who had one or two undispensed medication(s) due to unavailability were more adherent than those who received all their medications. Our study, however, did not probe to find out whether these patients obtained drugs elsewhere.

Forgetfulness has been identified as one of the major contributors to nonadherence to antidiabetic medication.[28],[29] To address this short-fall, there is need for regular follow-up visits, counseling sessions involving a family member, and even patient group campaigns. Healthcare workers home visits are likely to significantly improve adherence to antidiabetic medication, improve glycemic control and overall health outcomes. Furthermore, mobile technology for sending reminders have demonstrated improved medication adherence among people with HIV.[30]

We acknowledge that a limitation of our study is the use of self-reported data which has the tendency to overestimate adherence due to recall challenges and patient bias. However, research has suggested that validated self-report questionnaires provide a reasonably accurate estimate of adherence.[23] We are also aware that a preferred indicator for glycemic control is the glycated hemoglobin. However, our study used fasting blood glucose, which is an equally good indicator of glycemic control. In addition, our study sites were diabetic clinics which were government facilities providing free service and medication to National Health Insurance holders, conditions which may not exist in some resource-poor settings. Nevertheless, we believe our findings are relevant and reflect what pertains in a number of resource-poor settings.

   Conclusion Top

Adherence to oral hypoglycemic drugs among respondents with T2DM was found to be 47.75%. The commonest self-reported reason for nonadherence was forgetfulness. Adherence to treatment regimen was significantly associated with fasting blood glucose level, educational status, and availability of prescribed medication at health facility. Therefore, in such settings, management of T2DM must include strategies to identify nonadherent patients, and regular patient education and counseling.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Alberti KG, Zimmet PZ. Definition, diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus and its complications. Part 1: Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus provisional report of a WHO consultation. Diabet Med 1998;15:539-53.  Back to cited text no. 1
World Health Organisation. Diabetes Fact sheet. World Health Organisation; 2016. Available from URL: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/. [Last accessed on 2019 Mar 15].  Back to cited text no. 2
World Health Organisation. Global Report On Diabetes. World Health Organisation; 2016. Available from URL: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/204871/1/9789241565257_eng.pdf?ua=1. [Last accessed on 2018 Nov 14].  Back to cited text no. 3
Tancredi M, Rosengren A, Svensson AM, Kosiborod M, Pivodic A, Gudbjörnsdottir S, et al. Excess Mortality among Persons with Type 2 Diabetes. N Engl J Med 2015;373:1720-32.  Back to cited text no. 4
Bertoluci MC, Rocha VZ. Cardiovascular risk assessment in patients with diabetes. Diabetol Metab Syndr 2017;9:25.  Back to cited text no. 5
da Mata AR, Álvares J, Diniz LM, da Silva MR, Alvernaz dos Santos BR, Guerra Júnior AA, et al. Quality of life of patients with diabetes mellitus types 1 and 2 from a referal health centre in minas gerais, Brazil. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol 2016;9:739-46.  Back to cited text no. 6
Rwegerera GM, Moshomo T, Gaenamong M, Oyewo TA, Gollakota S, Rivera YP, et al. Health-related quality of life and associated factors among patients with diabetes mellitus in Botswana. Alex J Med 2018;54:111-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
Ofori-Asenso R, Agyeman AA, Laar A, Boateng D. Overweight and obesity epidemic in Ghana-a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health 2016;16:1239.  Back to cited text no. 8
Commodore-Mensah Y, Samuel LJ, Dennison-Himmelfarb CR, Agyemang C. Hypertension and overweight/obesity in Ghanaians and Nigerians living in West Africa and industrialized countries: A systematic review. J Hypertens 2014;32:464-72.  Back to cited text no. 9
Cois A, Day C. Obesity trends and risk factors in the South African adult population. BMC Obes 2015;2:42.  Back to cited text no. 10
International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas. 6th ed. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation; 2013.  Back to cited text no. 11
Rwegerera GM, Moshomo T, Gaenamong M, Oyewo TA, Gollakota S, Mhimbira FA, et al. Antidiabetic medication adherence and associated factors among patients in botswana; implications for the future. Alex J Med 2018;54:103-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes--2014. Diabetes Care 2014;37 Suppl 1:S14-80.  Back to cited text no. 13
Cramer JA. A systematic review of adherence with medications for diabetes. Diabetes Care 2004;27:1218-24.  Back to cited text no. 14
Cramer JA, Benedict A, Muszbek N, Keskinaslan A, Khan ZM. The significance of compliance and persistence in the treatment of diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidaemia: A review. Int J Clin Pract 2008;62:76-87.  Back to cited text no. 15
Rwegerera GM. Adherence to anti-diabetic drugs among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus at Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – A cross-sectional study. Pan Afr Med J 2014;17:252.  Back to cited text no. 16
Grégoire JP, Sirois C, Blanc G, Poirier P, Moisan J. Persistence patterns with oral antidiabetes drug treatment in newly treated patients – A population-based study. Value Health 2010;13:820-8.  Back to cited text no. 17
Osterberg L, Blaschke T. Adherence to medication. N Engl J Med 2005;353:487-97.  Back to cited text no. 18
Kalyango JN, Owino E, Nambuya AP. Non-adherence to diabetes treatment at Mulago Hospital in Uganda: Prevalence and associated factors. Afr Health Sci 2008;8:67-73.  Back to cited text no. 19
World Health Organization. Adherence to Long-Term Therapies: Evidence for Action. 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2003.  Back to cited text no. 20
Sokol MC, McGuigan KA, Verbrugge RR, Epstein RS. Impact of medication adherence on hospitalization risk and healthcare cost. Med Care 2005;43:521-30.  Back to cited text no. 21
Adisa R, Fakeye TO, Fasanmade A. Medication adherence among ambulatory patients with type 2 diabetes in a tertiary healthcare setting in southwestern Nigeria. Pharm Pract (Granada) 2011;9:72-81.  Back to cited text no. 22
Morisky DE, Ang A, Krousel-Wood M, Ward HJ. Predictive validity of a medication adherence measure in an outpatient setting. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich) 2008;10:348-54.  Back to cited text no. 23
Ahmad NS, Ramli A, Islahudin F, Paraidathathu T. Medication adherence in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus treated at primary health clinics in Malaysia. Patient Prefer Adherence 2013;7:525-30.  Back to cited text no. 24
Wabe NT, Angamo MT, Hussein S. Medication adherence in diabetes mellitus and self management practices among type-2 diabetics in Ethiopia. N Am J Med Sci 2011;3:418-23.  Back to cited text no. 25
Yusuff KB, Obe O, Joseph BY. Adherence to anti-diabetic drug therapy and self management practices among type-2 diabetics in Nigeria. Pharm World Sci 2008;30:876-83.  Back to cited text no. 26
Asche C, LaFleur J, Conner C. A review of diabetes treatment adherence and the association with clinical and economic outcomes. Clin Ther 2011;33:74-109.  Back to cited text no. 27
Iqbal Q, Bashir S, Iqbal J, Iftikhar S, Godman B. Assessment of medication adherence among type 2 diabetic patients in Quetta city, Pakistan. Postgrad Med 2017;129:637-43.  Back to cited text no. 28
Bagonza J, Rutebemberwa E, Bazeyo W. Adherence to anti diabetic medication among patients with diabetes in eastern Uganda: A cross sectional study. BMC Health Serv Res 2015;15:168.  Back to cited text no. 29
Pop-Eleches C, Thirumurthy H, Habyarimana JP, Zivin JG, Goldstein MP, de Walque D, et al. Mobile phone technologies improve adherence to antiretroviral treatment in a resource-limited setting: A randomized controlled trial of text message reminders. AIDS 2011;25:825-34.  Back to cited text no. 30


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]


    Similar in PUBMED
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded180    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal