Patients' Journey to Medication Adherence (2017-2018)

Taking medication may appear straightforward and routine. Yet for some patients, it may be an emotional struggle, a daily reminder of the illness they have to endure and the accompanying impediments that complicate their decisions and actions to follow doctors’ orders. In the U.S., about half of the 3.2 billion prescriptions dispensed annually are not taken as instructed, leading to 125,000 preventable deaths and wasted medical expenditure of $290 billion a year.

This project team focused on better understanding patients’ feelings and thought processes regarding medication use in order to gain richer insights into patient disincentives and motivators for more optimal medication adherence. The team conducted focus groups and interviews to assess attitudes to nonadherence behavior and study cultural differences in the perceptions and value of medication.

The team also completed a systematic review of psychosocial motivators and barriers to oral anti-cancer medication adherence in breast cancer patients that appeared in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.


Fall 2017 – Summer 2018

Team Outcomes

Understanding Patients' Journey to Medication Adherence (poster by Shweta Lodha, Karley Whelan, Christiana Oshotse, Hayden Bosworth, Cheryl Lin, Pikuei Tu, Leah Zullig; Judges’ Selection Runner-up at Bass Connections Showcase, April 18, 2018

Cheryl Lin, Rachel Clark, Pikuei Tu, Hayden B. Bosworth, Leah L. Zullig. “Breast cancer oral anti-cancer medication adherence: a systematic review of psychosocial motivators and barriers.” 2017. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 165(2):247-260.

Presentation at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (November 4-8, 2017, Atlanta, GA); Finalist for 2017 Aetna Award for Excellence in Research

2017 Duke Health Forum—Take Our Pain Away: Patients, Practice and Policy of Opioid Epidemic, August 28, 2017


Shweta Lodha

This project has taught me about the value of effective communication in team-based projects, and the patience, resilience and perseverance that is required to develop a research project from inception. As a student, much of my daily work is self-guided, so it was not until I participated in this research project that I fully understood the benefits that dynamic collaboration can provide to overall growth and productivity. There were many times this semester where I felt my viewpoints on certain issues being positively challenged. I was made to think differently about everything from the importance phrasing has in constructing effective focus group questions to the general role of communication in mediating patient behavior, to everything in between. All in all, this semester has led me to fully understood the value of investing in building a strong team that can withstand the many pressures researchers can face on a daily basis.

–Shweta Lodha ’19

This Team in the News

Snapshots in Civic Engagement

Bass Connections Showcase Presents Research Highlights from Durham to Malaysia

Judges’ Selection for Best Poster Goes to Team Exploring Health Needs of Refugees in Durham

From Serving Meals to Studying Patients’ Behavior, This Research Team Thrives on Collaboration

See related team, Patients' Journey to Medication Adherence (2018-2019).

/faculty/staff Team Members

  • Hayden Bosworth, School of Medicine - Psychiatry & Behavior Sciences, Population Health Sciences, Medicine*
  • Cheryl Lin, John Hope Franklin Center, Duke Policy & Organizational Management Program*
  • Pikuei Tu, John Hope Franklin Center, Duke Policy & Organizational Management Program*
  • Leah Zullig, School of Medicine-Population Health Sciences*

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Shweta Lodha, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Christiana Oshotse, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Karley Whelan, Sociology (AB), Global Health (AB2)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Laura Bayzle, The Link Group
  • Rachel Clark, RTI International
  • Rungting Tu, Management School, Shenzhen University, China