A small study of patients who do not pick up new prescriptions for statin drugs that lower cholesterol levels reveals large numbers of them have multiple concerns about the drugs and need more education at the time of prescribing.

Researchers in Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California region called nearly 100 members who did not fill their initial statin prescription. Sixty-three percent had general concerns about the medication, the same percentage wanted to try lifestyle modifications instead of medicines, and 53 percent feared side effects, according to results in the American Journal of Managed Care.

The phone interviews also revealed that one-third of respondents had poor health literacy and 30 percent reported a lack of confidence completing health forms without assistance. Physicians should discuss medication usage with patients at the time of prescribing and lay terminology and perhaps educational materials, says Teresa Harrison, lead study author.

Other Kaiser studies on cholesterol medication adherence during the past two years revealed that patients are more likely to pick up a newly prescribed medication if they receive automated phone and mail reminders, or if they are part of an integrated delivery system with an electronic health record system linked to the in-house pharmacy.

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