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Medication Non-Adherence among Pediatric Patients with Chronic Illness

Ranjani Varadarajan, PhD1*, Song Hee Hong, PhD2

Introduction: The pediatric populations face unique challenges in adhering to medication therapy because of their care dependency and
varying developmental capacities. This review aims to provide a critical appraisal of recently published studies (1980-2013) on
medication non-adherence among children. Specifically, it intends to summarize factors associated with pediatric medication nonadherence
and to describe strengths and limitations of the interventions frequently used for improving medication adherence among
the pediatric population.
Methods: A review of the literature was conducted for studies published in English on pediatric adherence to medication and
therapeutic regimen between 1980 and 2013. Studies were included, if: (1) study populations were children and adolescents under 18
years of age; (2) study patients had chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, HIV and mental health disorders; and (3) study
outcomes and interventions concerned medication non-adherence.
Results: The number of studies reviewed was 76. Risk factors associated with pediatric medication non-adherence included age, peer
pressure, disease, type of medication, health providers, and socio-demographic factors. Intervention strategies were education,
cognitive/behavioral therapies, technologies, and multi-front approaches. However, few interventions were customized for the
pediatric population with varying developmental capacities.
Conclusion: Improving medication adherence among pediatric patients requires individually tailored and patient-centered approaches
that reflect varying developmental capacities of children.

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