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 non-adherence 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.