University of Leicester
BMJ Open-2015-Hayden-.pdf (802.96 kB)

Patients’ adherence-related beliefs about methotrexate: a qualitative study of the role of written patient information.

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posted on 2015-05-07, 09:26 authored by Charlotte Hayden, Rebecca Neame, Carolyn Tarrant
Objectives. Methotrexate is effective in treating inflammatory arthritis, but both under- and over-adherence can put patients at risk. Patients may fail to adhere due to practicalities including the unusual weekly dosing regimen, but medication beliefs also play a role. This study explored how both beliefs about necessity and concerns about methotrexate become established in patients with inflammatory arthritis and how patients use information in managing their beliefs and concerns. Design. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients taking oral methotrexate for inflammatory arthritis. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. Setting. Participants were recruited from a single Trust in the East Midlands. Participants. Fifteen patients (4 male, 11 female) with inflammatory arthritis. Results. Methotrexate was commonly prescribed at the time of diagnosis; at this point experience of illness was influential for beliefs about medication necessity. Following prescription, patients absorbed information from written and verbal sources which reinforced beliefs about necessity but also raised concerns, including fear of side effects. Over time, beliefs were modified on the basis of personal experience, particularly of medication effectiveness and side-effects. Some patients described tensions and dissonance in their beliefs and experiences of methotrexate, which put them at risk of non-adherence. Patients used information-seeking and information-avoidance as strategies to resolve these tensions. Available information did little to help suppress dissonance and sometimes exacerbated it. Conclusions. Patients’ experiences of coming to terms with taking methotrexate are complex, and experiences of dissonance are particularly problematic. Experiences might be improved by supporting patients to assess necessity (particularly in the presence of side effects) and by providing information to moderate unnecessary concerns. Improving recording and sharing of monitoring results may be one way to meet these needs.


This work was supported by the University of Leicester intercalated BSc fund.;This work was supported by the University of Leicester intercalated BSc fund.



BMJ Open 2015;5:e006918

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND PSYCHOLOGY/School of Medicine/Department of Health Sciences


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