Personality and medication non-adherence among older adults enrolled in a six-year trial

Anthony F Jerant, Benjamin Chapman, Paul Duberstein, John A Robbins, Peter Franks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objectives. Personality factors parsimoniously capture the variation in dispositional characteristics that affect behaviours, but their value in predicting medication non-adherence is unclear. We investigated the relationship between five-factor model personality factors (Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Extraversion, and Openness) and medication non-adherence among older participants during a six-year randomized placebo-controlled trial (RCT). Design. Observational cohort data from 771 subjects aged ≥72 years enrolled in the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory study, a RCT of Ginkgo biloba for prevention of dementia. Methods. Random effects logistic regression analyses examined effects of NEO Five-Factor Inventory scores on medication non-adherence, determined via pill counts every 6 months (median follow-up 6.1 years) and defined as taking <80% of prescribed pills. Analyses adjusted for covariates linked with non-adherence in prior studies. Results. Each 5 year increment in participant age was associated with a 6.7% greater probability of non-adherence (95% confidence interval, CI [2.4, 11.0]). Neuroticism was the only personality factor associated with non-adherence: a 1 SD increase was associated with a 3.8% increase in the probability of non-adherence (95% CI [0.4, 7.2]). Lower cognitive function was also associated with non-adherence: a 1 SD decrease in mental status exam score was associated with a 3.0% increase in the probability of non-adherence (95% CI [0.2, 5.9]). Conclusions. Neuroticism was associated with medication non-adherence over 6 years of follow-up in a large sample of older RCT participants. Personality measurement in clinical and research settings might help to identify and guide interventions for older adults at risk for medication non-adherence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-169
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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