Ethnic disparities in adherence to antihypertensive medications of medicare part D beneficiaries

Holly M. Holmes, Ruili Luo, Joseph T. Hanlon, Linda S. Elting, Maria Suarez-Almazor, James S. Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Objectives To determine the level of adherence to medications and characteristics of Part D beneficiaries associated with higher levels of antihypertensive medication adherence. Design Retrospective cohort study. Setting Medicare claims and Part D event files. Participants Medicare Part D enrollees with prevalent uncomplicated hypertension who filled at least one antihypertensive prescription in 2006 and two prescriptions in 2007. Measurements Medication adherence was defined as an average medication possession ratio of 80% or greater. Potential factors associated with adherence evaluated were age, sex, race or ethnicity, socioeconomic factors, comorbidity, medication use, copayments, being in the coverage gap, and number of unique prescribers. Results Overall adherence was 79.5% of 168,522 Medicare Part D enrollees with prevalent uncomplicated hypertension receiving antihypertensive medicines in 2007. In univariate analysis, adherence varied significantly according to most patient factors. In multivariable analysis, lower odds of adherence persisted for blacks (odds ratio (OR) = 0.53, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.51-0.55), Hispanics (OR = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.55-0.61), and other non-white races (OR = 0.80 95% CI = 0.75-0.85) than for whites. Greater comorbidity and concurrent medication use were also associated with poorer adherence. Adherence was significantly different across several geographic regions. Conclusion A number of associations were identified between patient factors and adherence to antihypertensive drugs, with significant differences in adherence according to ethnicity. Improving adherence could have significant public health implications and could improve outcomes specific to hypertension, as well as improving cost and healthcare utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1298-1303
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Medicare Part D
  • ethnic disparities
  • medication adherence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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